Computer problems? Keep "COMM!"

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shen-Chia McHone
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Every December, children learn about Santa Claus. They may only believe he works just one day a year, to deliver toys to their homes.

But what we don't see - the workers busy making toys all-year-round.

According to folklore, elves in Santa's workshop work around the clock to ensure toys will be delivered to children around the world on Christmas Eve.

Although the 445th Force Support Squadron Communications Element doesn't wear pointy hats and shoes, they don't dress primarily in red and green colors, and certainly do not wear tights; they are like elves - doing their best to get the job done.

"Many people don't notice COMM until something goes wrong and it needs to be fixed," said Tech. Sgt. Jermane Coleman, 445th Force Support Squadron Communications Element chief of information systems. "We can stay until late night to run updates or patches for a server for the computer on base to work properly the next day."

Many may believe COMM only fixes computers, but they have much more functions. Like elves, they take care of technology gadgets or "toys" the 445th Airlift Wing uses for everyday use such as BlackBerrys, computers, email outlook, telephones, radio services, printers, the Official Mail Center, Sharepoint, and protecting one's identity and financial information.

There are some misconceptions about COMM, that they are stereotyped as the computer nerds and geeks of the base. For one Airman, this isn't true at all.

"People are shocked when I tell them I don't even own a computer at home, only an android tablet," said Master Sgt. Scott Schrier, 445th FSS CE NCO-in-charge of Client Systems. "I don't do COMM related things at home or in my personal life."

For the repair side of the house, COMM technicians are rarely seen because they show up quietly and do their job.

"We don't want to disturb or distract anyone, that's why people see us as invisible. The bulk of our work normally isn't seen or noticed," said Coleman. "When people are working hard behind the scenes, sometimes their hard work goes unnoticed or underappreciated."

Since the beginning, COMM was an independent squadron. Now that they have merged and embedded with the 445th FSS, they're a part of their support structure.

"The Air Force network, or AFNET, is assuming control and consolidating COMM across the Air Force. Cyberspace command is the overall authority for all COMM and we receive regular tasking and orders from them," said Coleman. "Before, COMM was never seen or heard of, but today there is a massive shift to the way COMM has done business in the past and where they are today."

When they're not in the shop, COMM plays a detective role in investigating troubleshooting problems each day as problems arise.

"Our job is sometimes like playing Sherlock Holmes, where we find out what is wrong, asking questions and learning how to fix the mystery problem," said Coleman. "What I love about COMM is the fact that I see something new and odd everyday. I like addressing unique challenges and having the opportunity to assist people."

"I'm fortunate to work with such amazing people who care about each other and offer support," he said.

Similar to a detective, COMM helps to detect and resolve issues, working as a team.

"In order to be a part of our team, you need to have a certain positive can-do attitude, doing your part to get the job done because everything we do has an impact," said Coleman. "That's why I love the team we have. They are all highly trained professionals in their career fields and I know I can trust them, it's like a family."

Besides being adaptable and resilient in the COMM career field, they get to experience seeing how Airmen across the base operate from day to day. Going out meeting new people is an interesting experience for Schrier.

"In my career field, I meet lots of different people, it's amazing to find out what other Airmen do in the Air Force Reserve," he said.