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137th FSS trains in mock deployment

Senior Airman Marco Bowen, a food service personnel worker with the 137th Service Sustainment Flight, helps assemble a small shelter system frame during the Force Support Silver Flag exercise, a weeklong total force exercise June 6 – 14, 2014, at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia.  Bowen earned the Top Performer Award during the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. LeeAnn Tumblson)

Senior Airman Marco Bowen, a food service personnel worker with the 137th Service Sustainment Flight, helps assemble a small shelter system frame during the Force Support Silver Flag exercise, a weeklong total force exercise June 6 – 14, 2014, at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia. Bowen earned the Top Performer Award during the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. LeeAnn Tumblson)

Airman 1st Class Zuzzy Hernandez, a food service personnel worker with the 137th Service Sustainment Flight, bags a simulated human foot during the search and recovery portion of the Force Support Silver Flag exercise, a weeklong total force exercise June 6 – 14, 2014, at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia.  The team is trained to respond to any mishap involving death or mass fatalities, as well as versed in how to recover the remains from the site and ship them to the Dover Port Mortuary, Del., for identification and burial preparation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. LeeAnn Tumblson)

Airman 1st Class Zuzzy Hernandez, a food service personnel worker with the 137th Service Sustainment Flight, bags a simulated human foot during the search and recovery portion of the Force Support Silver Flag exercise, a weeklong total force exercise June 6 – 14, 2014, at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia. The team is trained to respond to any mishap involving death or mass fatalities, as well as versed in how to recover the remains from the site and ship them to the Dover Port Mortuary, Del., for identification and burial preparation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. LeeAnn Tumblson)

WILL ROGERS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Okla. -- The 137th Force Support Squadron is known for operating the dining facility at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma.

However, when they are at a deployed location, FSS is heavily relied on by Airmen for everyday operations.

"Most people think we just pass out towels and cook mashed potatoes," said Staff Sgt. Abby Emerson, kitchen supervisor for the 137th FSS. "It's a much bigger career field than that. Airmen who head to Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia, for training are surprised when they realize cooking is not the main focus."

This year, the 137th FSS took a weeklong trip to Georgia for an exercise that occurs every four years, where they were trained to establish a bare base in a deployed location. Airmen slept on cots with weapons in hand for the duration of the training. They practiced setting up tents for lodging, building cooking facilities, briefing commanders and planning activities for morale.
Services are one of the first groups needed in a deployed location to coordinate housing, food, search and recovery, mortuary services, and, eventually, activities for morale. In a deployed environment, the initial concern is to plan sleeping arrangements for an unpredictable amount of service members.

"If we land on a bare base, our main mission would be bedding down people," said Emerson. "We think about their lodging because tents are not set up. Each tent, which holds 12 cots, takes approximately two hours to set up and install electricity and air conditioning. We set up eight of them."

During the weeklong training, Airmen were tested on their ability to handle confrontations. Instructors simulated mortar attacks, damaged tents and injured Airmen. Fast paced training allowed Airmen to develop critical thinking skills in what could be a hostile deployed location.

"When we are in a stressful situation, we try to make the best out of services," said Master Sgt. Arlene Nilkumhang, a service technician for the 137th FSS. "A stressful environment can be either good or bad, but most of the time it's a bonding experience."

Providing recreation is an important part of FSS members' job down range. As a part of their training, they planned time for physical training competitions. Additionally, Airmen's knowledge and capabilities were tested with a written exam covering basic concepts within their field.

Being ready to deploy in a moment's notice is vital to mission success. The 137th FSS takes pride in working together as a team where they accomplished challenging training at Dobbins ARB.