JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Twenty-five employers who employee Citizen Soldiers who serve with the Air Force Reserve 446th Airlift Wing (AW), Washington State’s only Air Force Reserve flying unit, got a rare chance to see firsthand the type of work their employees do when called to serve their Nation.
The employers got this opportunity by participating in an Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Bosslift which was hosted by the Washington ESGR and held in conjunction with the 446th AW Employer Orientation Day.
Greg Richardson, a senior quality manager at the Boeing Company, was excited to see what his employee Master Sgt. Jon Touma, a quality manager for wing system installations at the Boeing Company, and load master on the Bosslift flight, did when serving. “Jon will leave us for six months and we hear stories, but here I get to see what he is going with my own eyes,” said Richardson.
The Bosslift is an ESGR program that allows employers to experience firsthand what their employees who serve in the Reserve Component do when they leave their civilian employment to perform military service so that they have a better understanding of the military tasks performed by the Air Force Reserve Airmen they employ.
This Bosslift was not only Washington ESGR’s first Bosslift since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in 2020, but also the first Bosslift with the 446th AW in over 4 years, after runway repairs on McChord Field limited operations for an extended period prior to the pandemic. “We worked through COVID restrictions as well as the uncertainty that came with that, but we were very excited to be able to once again partner with the 446th Airlift Wing to show case the amazing work their Airmen do,” said Jim Miller, Washington ESGR military outreach director who helped plan the event.
The day started with a briefing by 446th AW Vice Commander Col. Charles Metzgar, in part thanking the employers, and an ESGR brief from South Sound Area Chair Ohad Lowy. “Bosslifts allow us to educate employers regarding the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act,” said Lowy. “We explained to the employers that they were invited to participate in the Bosslift because of the support they had provided their employs. Many employers have not had the opportunity to fly in a C-17 so they are always excited to do that.”
The employers were then taken to board a C-17 Globemaster III, where they not only got to experience flying, but also got to observe a in-flight demonstration by the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron of the type of life saving medical mission that they carry out.
“This was a great opportunity to show what these employees do, when typically, their employers and fellow employees just see them at work,” said Capt. Riley Finnelly, who was at the controls of the C-17 during takeoff, and a pilot for Erian Air. “This gives context behind the other part of their lives.” That opportunity was not lost on Tim Vollink, president of Erian Air. “The two Air Force pilots and Marine Corp pilot who are our employees are amazing people, and I wanted to share their experiences,” said Vollink. “This was a cool experience.”
After the flight, the employers gathered at Heritage Park, where several employers were recognized with an ESGR Patriot Award in recognition of their support they provide their employees who serve in the 446th AW. Those recognized with a Patriot Award were:
Therese Pasquire, South Family Medicine, nominated by Lt. Col Sean Stout; Theo Cragg, Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific, nominated by Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Walker; Lynn Batchelder, Washington Department of Health – Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission, nominated by Master Sgt. Erin Bush; Adam Schetselaar, Sound Balance Physical Therapy, nominated by Master Sgt. Jonathan May; and Richard Smith, Washington Liquor & Cannabis Board, nominated by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Harkness.
The Bosslift left a lasting impression on the employers regarding the work the Reservists do. “The event helped me see what they are doing when the military takes them and showed me what their job is and how they perform it outside of their civilian job,” said Sharyar Khalid, lead for 747 avionics systems at Boeing, who invited to the Bosslift by Capt. Cartsensen Jerrod, an avionics engineer at Boeing and a pilot with the 446th AW. “This definitely gives me a better appreciation of what he [Jerrod] does as well as cements my support of him as he is going out there doing important things.