8/3/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARSON, Alaska -- Staff Sgt. Adam Jenkins and Senior Airman Cassandra Jenkins are a dual-military couple fresh off of active duty who decided to continue serving their country by joining the Air Force Reserve. They joined the 944th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, where both serve in the 944th Logistics Readiness Squadron and together work as maintainers in the refueling vehicle maintenance shop.
It must have been fate when Cassandra was assigned to be Adam's military sponsor in 2009 when he was new to Holloman AFB, New Mexico. They met, fell in love, and have been married for over three years.
Adam, originally from Ohio, began his military career in 2007.
While on active duty he deployed twice, once to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. Currently, he is a full time student at Universal Technical Institute, studying automotive technology. He joined the military for travel, education benefits and to serve his county following a long family tradition.
So far his career highlights include his deployments, "I feel like I was involved with mission support by not only the type of vehicle I would maintain but also the quality and quantity of my work," said Adam.
Cassandra, a native of Arizona, joined the military in 2008. While on active duty she did not get to travel much or deploy down range but is very interested in getting the opportunity while serving with the 944th FW. She joined the military as a way to help take care of her mother.
Her career highlights include being the only Airman to be a primary Unit Environmental Coordinator at Holloman AFB and being a superior performer during her units 2013 Unit Compliant Inspection where they received an "Excellent" rating.
According to the DoD demographics report, there are about 90,000 military-married-to-military couples in the United States armed forces. The Air Force has the highest percentage of those with 11.6 percent.
The military treats each member of the dual-military couple as an independent entity despite the couple making decisions jointly so being a member of a dual-military couple can present a unique set of challenges, however this couple chose to overcome the adversities and continually work to find a balance between their marriage and their careers.
Working in the same unit on the same type of vehicles could prove to be difficult for some couples but not this one.
"People think we are crazy because of how much time we spend together but after five years of being together we still really enjoy each other's company," said Cassandra. "Military life is hard but we both understand it, know what to expect, and speak the same "military" language."
It did take the pair a little while to find a good balance between work and home life. "We have learned not to bring the job home," Adam commented.
As a couple they made a joint decision to leave active duty but their reasons were different. He was seeking more education to broaden his skill sets.
"With a 4.0 GPA I have been very successful in achieving my goal so far," said Adam. "Next I want to get a good job in the maintenance career field and take that knowledge and apply it to my Air Force Reserve career and hopefully teach other Airmen."
Cassandra wanted to be closer to family. "Leaving the security of active duty was a scary decision but my husband and family have been very supportive," she said. Her long term goal is to go to school for criminal justice and find a job in that career field.
They picked to serve in the 944th FW because it was close to home and family. There were a few bumps along the way but overall the transition was a smooth one. Adam indicated the Reserve was a great fit for the couple. "The best part of the switch is convenience; the Air Force Reserve really works with my schedule."
As a couple, the Reserve allows them to better focus on things that are important to them, their civilian careers and getting to spend more time with family.
Starting over again has been the hardest thing about the transition for the couple. "Not having the stability of a fulltime jobs and making decision about careers and school has been a challenge," said Cassandra.
They have only been in the Reserve for a few months however both agree their long term goal is to serve in the military until retirement.
On the home front, Cassandra who comes from a very large family said they would eventually like expand their family with a couple of children. Adam agreed with a large smile, "A couple of kids would be great."
Members of the 944th Fighter Wing departed Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, July 25, leaving behind temperatures closing in on the century mark for the balmy 65-degree weather at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. By Arizona standards, it was a cool start for the 944th Logistics Readiness Squadron's 2015 annual tour.
The 944th LRS will integrate with, and provide and receive training with their active duty counterparts from the 673rd and the 773rd Logistics Readiness Squadrons during this year's deployment.
"The best compliment I can get is to be asked back," said Col. Kurt Gallegos, 944th Fighter Wing commander, as he spoke with the group before take-off.
"Don't forget who you represent. There are three things we bring: experience, continuity, and cost effectiveness. Show them what the 944 Fighter Wing is made of, have fun, and don't forget your wingman."
While in Alaska the 944th LRS will be divided into two groups.
Fuels, supply, and vehicle maintenance will work with the 673rd LRS and readiness, traffic management office and vehicle operations will work with the 773rd LRS. The team also comprises support members including, training, commander support staff, 944th Forces Support Squadron personnel, and wing staff agencies.
As part of the 673rd Logistics Readiness Group, the 673rd and 773rd LRSs with a combined staff of more than 500 personnel are responsible for the operation and maintenance of 1,500-plus vehicles worth $121 million; deployment operations for nearly 3,000 tons of Air Force equipment, 1,100 pieces of Army rolling stock and 600 storage containers; supply operations for nearly 48,000 line items valued at over $408 million; storage and distribution of 12.5 million gallons of fuel; and traffic management support for 12,500 cargo shipments, 5,300 household good shipments and 10,630 ticketed travelers.
"Off station annual tours are such an important part of being a reservist. This is a time when Airmen can put into action all their training and skills working side by side their active duty counterparts," said Senior Master Sgt. Patrick Mahan, 944th LRS, Fuels NCO in charge and assistant project officer for the trip. "Working in a real environment provides absolutely irreplaceable training, something which is very difficult to replicate in a simulated situation at home station."
"I am definitely excited to be outside Arizona.
I'm a big fisherman so I hope to get in some fishing as well as working," said Airman Michael Prado, 944th LRS, TMO. As a full-time student at Glendale Community College who has been with the unit for less than a year, this is his first squadron deployment. "The process has been really smooth so far; my supervisor really helped me to get ready."
During their time in Alaska, fuels personnel will receive training on Airborne Warning and Control System planes, hydrant systems, pump house, storage, laboratory, cryogenics, and accounting.
Members from the readiness section will assist with crisis action planning and other contingency processes and provide training in those areas. Additionally, they will receive seven-level upgrade and continual training and back-fill their active duty counter parts.
Supply individuals will spend their time backfilling the active duty shop and receive on-the-job training and continual upgrade training.
Airmen from the transportation section are going to be providing and receiving vehicle operations training, TMO and continual upgrade training.
They will also be assisting active duty with vehicle maintenance.
The training section will coordinate with active duty LRS training managers to provide and receive training and they will work with 944 LRS supervisors and trainers on any upgrade training and Training Business Area matters.
For the LRS, day one for this deployment began about a year ago when Readiness started working to get approval for the trip, coordinating airlift support and planning out the deployment and redeployment process.
"Our job is to carefully and efficiently get everyone to the destination, get them properly settled in and then rewind and do everything in reverse to get everyone home safely," said Senior Master Sgt. James Lindsay, 944th LRS, NCOIC of Plans and deployment project officer.
"I want everyone to be safe, continue to learn and represent the Reserve proudly," said Major Cedric Finnen, 944th LRS, Vehicle Maintenance Flight commander and Operation Patriot Angler deployment commander.