JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - LACKLAND, Texas –
The anatomy of any successful unit function is like an automobile engine - all parts have to be in synch to run smoothly.
The inaugural Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency Field Day and Family Picnic at Security Hill's Stapleton Park April 5 here, was running on all cylinders thanks to a behind-the-scenes team of coordinators who turned a casual get-together into a memorable event with a purpose.
That purpose was to give back to those who've sacrificed so much.
"We've had so many people deployed over the last 10 years of war and these families have paid a heavy price for that," said Maj. Gen. John Shanahan, Air Force ISR Agency commander. "This is a chance for everybody to enjoy a little time with each other outside the workplace, get to know each other better, camaraderie, thanking our families for all they've put up with our deployed Airmen. It's the AFISRA family."
The event committee project officer, Capt. Katherine Couron, orchestrated the vectors of various committee members.
"I was here less than 60 days when we started this so I absolutely relied on the points of contact for everything," Couran said. "Everyone stepped up enthusiastically from day one. I couldn't have done it without each of the POCs."
Besides prepping the park to accommodate the event, the committee team divided the event into five major areas of responsibility: activities, kids, supplies, food and safety. Each of the five required specific items, making for plenty of moving parts to track.
Not the least of which were the deployment care packages event attendees could box up on site and send to agency deployed members. Donations included cereal bars, chap sticks, sun screen, books, games, Easter goodies plus items from the Airman Family Readiness Center here for family members with children.
"We have a variety of items to fill whole boxes plus the money to cover shipping," said Laura Shanahan of the Agency Spouses Group. "We want our deployed members and their families know they never left us. They're still part of the family and we're here for them."
One member's family which benefitted first hand from the tight knit support the agency family provides is Maj. Steven Hovsepian, his spouse Nila Mistli, son Hayden and daughter Jasmine. The major returned home the day after Thanksgiving in 2013, following a six-month deployment to Kabul, Afghanistan. He gives the agency's family-oriented mindset a glowing recommendation.
"This event shows appreciation for our families, whether you're deployed or doing shift work," the major said. "They get to enjoy the Air Force community atmosphere we all share, a common bond. My wife had no experience with the military before we got married. Now it's an enriching part of our lives. It helps out that way."
For the record, the Plans, Programs, Requirements and Assessments directorate won the basketball, volleyball and tug-of war tournaments, and finished second to Front Office Team 2 in dodge ball, to easily take top overall sports honors in the form of gold medals.
Meanwhile, Crock Pot Cook Offpulled pork category laurels went to Capt. Hannah McDaniels from protocol and to Mrs. Angel Knapp for her creamed corn which topped the "all others" category.
Competition results aside, the key to ensuring this event's success can be traced to the painstaking preparations made right up until the agency commander jogged into the park carrying a torch to signify the festivities to begin.
"The set up support we had this morning was beyond what I expected," Couran said. "We doubled, maybe tripled the volunteers I anticipated. People came out of the woodwork genuinely happy to help. They really wanted to be out here and that made a difference in my morning."
...and the mornings of hundreds of agency folks in attendance.