News>Feature - There's no AFSC for that? Part one -- protocol
Airman 1st Class Ivana Robinson, 81st Training Wing protocol office, sets out a parking tent with a magnetic distinguished visitor name plate for a visiting officer in front of the 81st Training Wing headquarters building March 15, 2012. The wing’s protocol office assists and helps coordinate all official ceremonies on-base, and provides support to distinguished visitors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)
Michele Rivera, 81st Training Wing protocol specialist; 1st Lt. Diaundra Davis, 81st TRW protocol chief; and Senior Master Sgt. Valencia Parker-Evans, 81st TRW protocol superintendent, assist each other with setting up the wing conference room for a meeting with refreshments for a meeting March 16, 2012 at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)
First Lt. Diaundra Davis, 81st Training Wing protocol chief, adjusts the United States flag so that it is facing toward the audience March 16, 2012, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. The protocol office is responsible for assuring customs and courtesies are followed during events to include flag placement and seating organization. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)
Michele Rivera, 81st Training Wing protocol specialist, prepares a welcome basket for a visiting general officer in the 81st TRW conference room March 16, 2012, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. The wing’s protocol office is responsible for behind-the-scene actions that occur during distinguished visits such as coordinating their itinerary, setting up lodging and arranging transportation to make the visit run as smoothly as possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)
by Senior Airman Eric Summers Jr.
81st Training Wing Public Affairs
3/21/2012 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Editor's Note: This is the first in a series about people at Keesler Air Force Base in special duty positions outside of their primary Air Force specialty code.
They are constantly seen at base events dealing with changes, settling last minute conflicts and the highly unexpected, while maintaining a cool, calm and collected look as if everything is perfect. Members of the 81st Training Wing Protocol office are the ones behind the scene ensuring every wing event runs like clockwork.
Protocol is a special duty whose mission is to oversee and assist with official ceremonies and events on base, as well as provide first-class hospitality and support to distinguished visitors.
According to Michelle Rivera, 81st Training Wing protocol specialist, if it's an official event protocol will have some sort of role. They ensure people know what is expected during different events and also pay attention to the smallest details events run smoothly.
"We assist in wing promotion ceremonies, Airman Leadership School graduations, we present event summaries to key personnel and send invitations for every official function," said 1st Lt Diaundra Davis, 81st Training Wing protocol chief. "We also support the training group drilldown and (Keesler Spouses Club) Heartlink program."
The protocol office provides support for these events in different ways including organizing seating charts, arranging flags, placing parking space tags and setting up a conference room.While providing support and guidance for these events, the protocol office is also responsible for distinguished visitors and ensuring that their visit is as pleasant as possible.
"We plan it out from the time that they are out of their transportation to the time that they are back on," said Davis. "We plan it from every hour to every half hour.
"We plan what transportation they will be using, who would be part of the conference, the type of audience attending, placing parking tents and seating labels," said Davis. "Depending on the purpose, we coordinate with other agencies."
A unique aspect of the protocol office here is that they don't just have to know about the Air Force Instructions, customs and courtesies, events and distinguished visitors that govern Air Force ceremonies. They must know the customs and courtesies of other countries because Keesler hosts students from around the world.
"We have to know rules, regulations and customs of other counties so that we can advise leadership," said Rivera.
For example, leadership needs to know not to hand a person from the Middle East something with their left hand because it is considered disrespectful in their culture.
Airman 1st Class Ivana Robinson, 81st Training Wing protocol specialist, said the special duty has given her a new perspective that she would not have normally seen with her primary job in Knowledge Operations Management.
"Utilize us, we're here to help," said Rivera. "We will give them the guidance and tools to make their event successful."