Wild Weasel firefighter puts out flames on first assignment jitters

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Collette Brooks
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Post boot camp, Airmen begin technical school to become well-versed in their respective career fields. After weeks of hands-on training and classroom direction, students prepare for graduation while looking forward to a crucial document that separates them from their next endeavor: permanent change of station orders.


While tech school primarily focuses on the specifics of the career field, it’s the Airmen’s responsibility to master getting settled again at their next duty station.


Anticipation of future assignments can create a gut-twisting feeling, leaving Airmen anxious, restless and even uneasy, but Airman 1st Class Adam Cardona, a 35th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection journeyman, combatted first base jitters with fun, exploration and self-discovery.


“When I received orders to Misawa Air Base, Japan, I initially felt uneasy because being stationed that far away from my family and starting a whole new life without them didn’t sound appealing at all,” expressed Cardona. “After a few weeks my fear subsided and my time here became something better than I could have ever expected.”


Cardona’s co-worker agreed changing bases can be difficult, but applying your energy and time to the opportunities that new places and new faces provide can make all the difference.


“It’s normal for an Airman to feel nervous when PCSing to their first base,” explained Staff Sgt. Brendon Sample, a 35th CES lead firefighter. “The adjustment period varies for everyone, but getting out of your comfort zone and exploring makes the transition much easier.”


Due to the inviting nature of the local community members, Cardona said he felt ready to break out of his shell and explore the area and see what Misawa City had to offer.


“The residents here make you instantly feel a part of the community instantly,” he added. “They are kind, generous and always respectful. I feel a sense of freedom, security and belonging.”


Despite encountering various people along his journey that put an undeniable light in his life, Cardona still faced geographical challenges associated with being stationed in a rural area.


“This location makes it tough to find ‘city-like’ activities to do,” he explained. “But appreciating the great outdoors and all it has to offer like hiking, swimming and snowboarding, makes Misawa City a great place to live.”  


Although Misawa City lacks fancy bright lights, skyscrapers or the roar of the city to fill the night sky, Cardona discovered a more personal and profound achievement.


“My mental strength grew a great deal since being stationed here,” he explained with pride building in his tone and spilling over each word. “Residing in this region is no easy task because we have to maintain that ‘fight tonight’ mentality. The training exercises and workload is heavier than I expected.”


Cardona added he’s more equipped to handle difficult situations due to his leadership’s guidance and structure.


“I advise my Airmen to create and maintain a strong mental, physical and spiritual foundation,” expressed Sample. “Since our career field is demanding and fast-paced, it’s important to learn and grow from every bad and good experience thrown your way so you build the strength to take on challenges without fear or doubt.”


In addition to Airmen seeing all days, regardless of the circumstance, as a learning experience, Cardona believed it’s most important to set goals while always having something to look forward to.


“I can’t wait to attend the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in July,” he expressed. “If it wasn’t for the close proximity from Misawa AB to the event, I know I wouldn’t have a chance at attending, so I am forever grateful for my orders here.”