MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --
Staff Sgt. Mitchell Alerding is a lead firefighter for the 167th Civil Engineering Squadron and the 167th Airlift Wing’s Airman Spotlight for April 2021.
Alerding directs firefighters during emergency responses to ensure their safety when operating on scene. He helps coordinate and leads training evolutions for 12 firefighters and serves as the 167th Fire Department’s unit deployment manager.
“He has gone above and beyond to ensure that all members deploying have met all pre-deployment requirements, tracked all supply and PPE (personal protective equipment) requests, and set up avenues for service member’s families to receive assistance while members are deployed,” said Master Sgt. Chris Taylor, fire chief for the 167th Fire Department.
Hometown: Warrenton VA
Job Title: Firefighter
How long have you served in the unit? Since 2011
How does your job support the 167th’s mission? I work as both a firefighter and the fire department’s UDM, so I’m exposed to both the smaller picture of every day operations in the fire department, and how they fit into the Air Force’s overall global mission. As a firefighter, my primary concern is with both responding to emergencies, and preparing junior personnel to do the same. As a UDM I do my best to ease stress of pre-deployment requirements for our firefighters, and ensure that our personnel are delivered to the AOR prepared and equipped for their mission.
My job here is important because: I don’t consider myself very important, but as a whole the fire department’s mission is. We provide life and property saving services both within the confines of the base and deployed locations, as well as assistance to the surrounding area. The 167th Fire Department does not just prepare firefighters for possible emergencies, it has and will continue to respond to real world situations with highly trained and motivated personnel. It’s a team effort, and no one is more important than another in our organization.
Civilian job: Full-time state firefighter for the 167th
Education: Bachelor’s in Fire Administration
Hobbies: Fly fishing, piano
Goals (military or civilian): I just want do what I can do to help the fire department.
I am proudest of: I’m proud of the fire department as a whole, but within or organization I’m most proud of the guys on my shift. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing personnel who came in after you outshine you, and they all do that on a daily basis. They’re very close to one another, lead by example, are competent and motivated. They will continue to challenge me to be better.
People may be surprised to know this about me: I’m a music snob and chances are if it was written after the early 1900s I won’t like it very much.
The most exciting thing I've done in the military is: I once witnessed a slightly inebriated active duty Airman from Eastern Europe almost fight a bear. It doesn’t get much more exciting than that. I couldn’t bring myself to intervene, but luckily a very angry MSgt put a stop to it before punches were thrown.
One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned throughout my career: Your attitude can be infectious. Even as an A1C negativity about things impacts other people’s moods and can have a detrimental effect on your overall organization. It’s a lesson that I learned the hard way, but I was fortunate enough to have brutally honest friends that straightened me out.
My advice to the newest Airmen in the Wing: Stay positive. It’s difficult to do when dealing with many bureaucratic, and more often than not tedious requirements that come with being an Airman. It’s easy let frustration build, and it’s even easier to stress out about the feeling of being behind on the myriad of readiness and paperwork requirements. Just do your best to keep up and help those around you keep up with it. Remember maintaining a positive attitude, even about things that seem dumb, helps those around you feel better about coming to work.
The best thing about working with my team is: The best thing about working with my shift is that they help to push me to do better in everything I do here.