MacDill defender puts service before self

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Heather Fejerang
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Starting any journey in life comes with new stresses – a different environment, financial adjustments or maybe being away from family. When coronavirus is added to that mix of uncertainty, the Air Force’s new technical school graduates are faced with a myriad of obstacles no other Airmen have tackled thus far.

Staff Sgt. Carmella Tagliavia, a 6th Security Forces Squadron trainer and unit scheduler, went out of her way to ease that transition for three of her squadron’s newest technical school arrivals on April 9, 2020.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the 6th SFS was facing challenges to conduct their normal sponsorship procedures, so Tagliavia stepped up and answered the call to be that major line of support for MacDill’s newest defenders. 

“I wanted to make sure they had someone to pick them up and help them get settled into MacDill,” explained Tagliavia. "I told my leadership that I would take responsibility and make sure it was as easy and painless as possible.”

Normally when inbound Airmen are assigned to the 6th SFS, responsible and experienced defenders are entrusted to sponsor and correspond with the technical school Airmen for a few months prior to their arrival.

However, due to COVID-19, service members across the world have faced changes to their permanent change of duty station assignments, which has disrupted the normal flow of how the 6th SFS in-processes their new Airmen.

The arriving Airmen and their sponsors experienced this uncertainty when they found out April 8, 2020, that the three new Airmen would fly out to Tampa the following day.

“I immediately started texting and organizing,” said Tagliavia, “Whatever they needed, I made sure they had it.”

Tagliavia went beyond sponsorship duties by taking the Airmen to local stores to ensure they each had everything they needed upon arrival and making sure they went to sleep in their new homes with full stomachs.

“She’s committed not only to her job, but she genuinely cares about her troops,” boasted Tech. Sgt. Sean Boes, 6th SFS member and Tagliavia’s direct supervisor. “As a fairly new member of the NCO-tier, she exhibits all the traits of a seasoned NCO and leader.”

Since the arrival of Team MacDill’s newest 6th SFS members, Tagliavia and her wingmen have kept in touch to make sure they are feeling well and have everything they need – providing more than just transportation to these members.

“She answered all of our questions regarding MacDill and COVID-19 as best she could,” said Airman Garci Sanchez, one of the arriving technical school graduates, “I’m grateful to Staff Sgt. Tagliavia for making our transition to MacDill easier on such short notice.”

This pandemic is unsettling and has forced all of us to adjust – despite the challenges, Tagliavia took a moment of stress and uncertainty and offered transparency and strength for her team.

“I think everyone should take a deep breath and realize this is temporary,” said Tagliavia, “If we take the right precautions, stay positive and remember communicate openly – we can make it through this together.”