Shadow Day program exposes Airmen to larger Air Force picture

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Adam R. Shanks
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — The Air Force employs a variety of jobs ranging from medical, mechanical, to administrative and information technologies. However, Airmen rarely get a chance to experience what their brothers and sisters-in-arms do on a daily basis.

At MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, the Shadow Day Program allows Airmen of all ranks to catch a glimpse of a job they may not have much exposure to. Throughout the year, first-term Airmen as well as those with experience take a peek into the missions of units they may not fully understand.

For example, Master Sgt. Adrian Wright, the sustainment and services flight superintendent assigned to the 6th Force Support Squadron, received the opportunity to see the day-to-day operations of the 6th Security Forces Squadron’s gate personnel. One thing that Wright learned, was that the same leadership qualities he’s acquired shows throughout the entire force.

“Prior to the visit, I had a good understanding of the gate operations and how the defenders keep it safe,” said Wright. “However, I was able to see that the challenges of being a senior NCO are present in all jobs in the Air Force.

“No matter the mission, it’s our job as senior NCOs to ensure our Airmen are cared for, and I saw the importance of that with security forces.”

Airman 1st Class Jose Torres, a customer service technician assigned to the 6th FSS, accompanied Wright during the experience. Torres’ duty day normally consists of making ID cards and processing records. However, Shadow Day provided him with many opportunities to receive security forces-specific training, such as a military working dog bite demonstration and exposure to a Taser.

 “It was a little terrifying at first being suited up in the bite suit, but afterwards it was actually really fun seeing the capabilities of dog handlers,” said Torres. “However, nothing could prepare me for the Taser; it only lasted five seconds, but it felt like forever.”

With the Shadow Day program, Airmen like Torres can branch out and learn about a specific mission firsthand. At the end of the day, he can spread his newfound knowledge to his work section, but the benefits work both ways.

“Even though Wright and Torres came from the 6th FSS and saw what security forces Airmen do, the defenders they met now have contacts to reach if they have any questions,” said Master Sgt. David Skipalis, the NCO in charge of training assigned to the 6th SFS. “I believe one of the best things to take away from Shadow Day is the networking potential.

“The host unit gets to share their mission with another unit, while also meeting others that can assist them later on; it’s a phenomenal program.”