Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dali Diaz: Heart of the 442nd

By Senior Airman Wesley Wright
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Dali Diaz, 442nd Fighter Wing secretary, takes a break from her busy work schedule. Diaz, who retires in December, has worked for the unit for almost 19 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Wesley Wright) Hi-res

6/4/2012 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- If you're ever walking near the fighter wing headquarters building and hear the sound of keys typing, paperwork shuffling, and birthdays being celebrated -- all at the same time -- it's probably Dali Diaz hard at work.

Diaz, who is the secretary to Brig. Gen. Eric. S. Overturf, 442nd Fighter Wing commander, has been a beacon of warmth, caring and professionalism here for nearly 19 years.

She began her journey in Puerto Rico, where she worked for the Puerto Rican government as an administrative assistant. Upon coming to America, she worked in a similar capacity for NASA, and then in Germany at the United States Air Forces in Europe headquarters.

After 11 years in Germany, Diaz and her family moved to Kansas City, Mo., where her then-husband was stationed. In July 1993, she began working as an administrator with the 442nd Maintenance Group, moving to the operations group after about six months then finally to the fighter wing in July 1994.

Diaz, now with two grown children and three grandchildren, has worked hard over the course of her career.

Capt. Keith Yersak, 442nd FW executive officer, said Diaz's work ethic is impeccable.

"She's an outstanding person," he said. "She keeps us focused on the mission and what we have to do to serve 2,000 people."

He said having an experienced secretary like Diaz makes work go smoothly, citing her vast knowledge of Air Force regulations and procedures.

Being a secretary to a brigadier general can be hectic, but Diaz uses her organizational skills to get the job done.

"You just do one thing at a time," she said. "You have to take care of priorities and the boss first. If you have too much for one day, you either stay late or come in early the next day."

Diaz said hard deadlines can be the major difference between the civilian and military employers for which she has worked.

"We have to do the work and cannot put it aside," she said. "We've gotten more (geographically separated units), but the office has not been assigned any new administrative assistants. We get more phone calls and more paperwork, but we still have the same people."

Diaz said she has persevered, nevertheless, and gets a sense of accomplishment from completing tasks.

"It's satisfying to know we meet the challenge and everything works out OK," she said.

Administrative duties may be Diaz's forte, but that's not all. She truly excels in making everyone feel like family.

"I love to celebrate birthdays and promotions for people," she said. "Those are accomplishments, and they make the workplace feel like a family place."

Rose Hartsock, 442nd Recruiting Office receptionist, has worked with Diaz for the last 11 years. Hartsock said Diaz's warmth and kind demeanor are known throughout the unit.

"She's friendly, kind, helpful, and always cheerful," Hartsock said. "She's definitely a dedicated, hard-working lady."

Hartsock said Diaz often brings in birthday cakes for co-workers -- showing her dedication to celebrating each person's accomplishments.

Diaz, who is scheduled to retire in December, says she has no intention of slowing down. She said she plans to return home to Puerto Rico to help her parents, stay active in her church and help young people to read and learn English.

"The community always needs leaders," she said. "There is always something to do."

Yersak said when Diaz retires, it will be difficult to find someone of her caliber.

"It's going to be tough, both personally and professionally," he said. "She knows so much, and that experience level will be hard to fill."


Comment from Warthog News: Deep respect, Dali Diaz! You are not an A-10 pilot, and you are not an A-10 crew chief or another maintainer. But you are on the right place of a well-oiled machine.

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