For this episode of the Sword and Pen, I sat down with four members of an Ohio Air National Guard public affairs (PA) office during their monthly drill on June 3, making it the first time in the short history of this podcast that we recorded a show from a military base.
As I drove through the gate of the 180th Fighter Wing near Toledo, Ohio, I felt a sense of nostalgia and pride because I retired from this unit 23 years ago. I worked out of the public office and was the editor of the unit’s newsletter, The Stinger.
The mission of the Sword and Pen is to inspire and educate our MVJ members. With that in mind, I reached out to the wing’s PA office last month to ask if they would share their own mission with us. After all, joining the guard or reserves after transitioning out of active duty is certainly a viable option for our members. It’s also beneficial to know the role of a PA office in case you need to reach out to them for a story you’re doing on any particular base, military member or issue.
On this episode, you will hear three enlisted airmen and one officer share their personal stories of how and why they got into the public affairs field and what their duties are.
Senior Master Sgt. Beth Holliker, the full-time public affairs superintendent and chief enlisted manager keeps the shop running smoothly. She joined the unit as a photographer just two months before I retired.
- Award-winning photographer and public affairs specialist Staff Sgt. Kregg York helps train the staff in all things multimedia. He graduated from DINFOS as a broadcast specialist. He’s created his own distance learning course on photography, and it’s open to anyone who wants to learn the craft of photography.
- Public affairs specialist Sarah Stalder-Lundren, is a recent graduate from the Defense Information School’s mass communication course. She works in human resources in her civilian job.
- Public affairs officer Maj. Matt Eck was a weapons loader in the 180th prior to transferring to the public affairs office. He is also the director of video production for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
We chatted about their social media policies, the skills they honed while at the Defense Information School (DINFOS), the value they gain from working in the 180th PA office, and much more.
The 180th FW is home to F-16 Fighting Falcon jets, and we were fortunate to hear the loud thunder of jet engines roar over us during the podcast recording. And yes, you can hear the jets in the podcast. It’s quite a sound.
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Up next month: Stephanie Ramos, ABC News national correspondent.