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Wild Weasel firefighter puts out flames on first assignment jitters

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Adam Cardona, a 35th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection journeyman, pauses for a photo at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 7, 2019. The Dallas, Texas, native attended firefighter training for three months prior to receiving orders to his first base, Misawa AB, which resulted in him feeling anxious, but he found solace through the welcoming embrace of local American and Japanese community members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Collette Brooks)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Adam Cardona, a 35th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection journeyman, pauses for a photo at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 7, 2019. The Dallas, Texas, native attended firefighter training for three months prior to receiving orders to his first base, Misawa AB, which resulted in him feeling anxious, but he found solace through the welcoming embrace of local American and Japanese community members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Collette Brooks)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Adam Cardona, a 35th Civil Engineer fire protection journeyman, pauses for a photo in front of a fire truck at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 7, 2019. Cardona’s leadership makes training exercises a top priority due to the base’s location, enhancing his professional growth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Collette Brooks)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Adam Cardona, a 35th Civil Engineer fire protection journeyman, pauses for a photo in front of a fire truck at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 7, 2019. Cardona’s leadership makes training exercises a top priority to improve base readiness and enhance his professional growth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Collette Brooks)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Adam Cardona, a 35th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection journeyman, drives a fire truck at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 7, 2019.  Cardona came to Misawa AB a year and half ago and has made Misawa feel like home by enjoying activities such as sightseeing, fireworks shows and local eateries. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Collette Brooks)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Adam Cardona, a 35th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection journeyman, drives a fire truck at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 7, 2019. Cardona came to Misawa AB a year and half ago and has made Misawa feel like home by enjoying activities such as sightseeing, firework displays and local eateries. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Collette Brooks)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Adam Cardona, a 35th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection journeyman, poses for a photo on a fire truck at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 7, 2019. Cardona has been stationed at Misawa AB for a year and a half and enjoys readiness training exercises with his shop because it enhances his work skillset, knowledge and understanding. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Collette Brooks)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Adam Cardona, a 35th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection journeyman, poses for a photo on a fire truck at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 7, 2019. Cardona has been stationed at Misawa AB for a year and a half and enjoys readiness training exercises with his shop because it enhances his work skillset, knowledge and understanding. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Collette Brooks)

USAF Cardona’s fire protection helmet sits on the ground in front of a fire truck at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 7, 2019. Cardona expressed Misawa City residents made him instantly feel like a part of the community due to their generosity, kindness and easy going personalities. The demeanor of local Japanese members inspired Cardona to be more humble, understanding and thoughtful when interacting with others. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Collette Brooks)

A U.S. Air Force fire protection helmet sits on the ground in front of a fire truck at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 7, 2019. Airman 1st Class Adam Cardona, a Dallas, Texas, native, attended firefighter training for three months prior to receiving orders to his first base, Misawa AB, which resulted in him feeling anxious. However, he found solace through the welcoming embrace of local American and Japanese community members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Collette Brooks)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --

Post boot camp, Airmen begin technical school to become trained and well-versed in their respective career fields. After weeks of hands-on training and classroom direction, students prepare for graduation while looking forward to a crucial document which separates them from their next endeavor: permanent change of station orders.

 

While tech school focuses primarily on teaching students proper and efficient job performance, it’s the Airmen’s responsibility to master getting settled again.

 

Anticipation of future assignments can create a gut-twisting feeling, leaving Airmen anxious, restless and even uneasy, but Airman 1st Class Adam Cardona, a 35th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection journeyman, combatted first assignment jitters with fun, exploration and self-discovery.

 

“When I received orders to Misawa Air Base, Japan, I initially felt discouraged because living far away from my family and starting a whole new life without them wasn’t ideal,” expressed Cardona. “When my fear subsided, my time here became something better than I could have ever expected.”

 

Cardona’s co-worker agreed changing bases can be difficult.

 

“It’s normal for an Airman to feel nervous when PCSing to their first base,” explained Staff Sgt. Brendon Sample, a 35th CES lead firefighter. “The adjustment period varies for everyone, but getting out of your comfort zone and exploring makes the transition much easier.”

 

Due to the inviting nature of local members, Cardona said he felt ready to break out of his shell and explore the area.

 

“Misawa City residents make you instantly feel a part of the community,” he added with a smile on his face. “They are kind, generous and always respectful. I feel a sense of freedom, security and belonging.”

 

Despite embracing his new home, Cardona still faced challenges associated with being stationed overseas.

 

“Being in the rural area can make it tough to find ‘city-like’ activities to do,” he explained. “But appreciating the great outdoors and all the things you can do, like hiking, swimming and snowboarding, makes Misawa City a great place to live.”  

 

Although Misawa City lacks fancy bright lights, skyscrapers or the roar of the city filling the night sky, Cardona discovered a more personal and profound achievement.

 

“My mental strength grew a great deal since being stationed here,” he explained. “Residing in this region is no easy task because we have to maintain that ‘fight tonight’ mentality. The training exercises and workload is heavier than I expected, but I appreciate how my shop makes readiness a top priority.”

 

Cardona added he’s more equipped to respond during difficult situations because his leadership provided him the necessary guidance and structure.

 

“I advise my Airmen to create and maintain a strong mental, physical and spiritual foundation,” expressed Sample. “Since our career field is demanding and fast-paced, it’s important to learn and grow from every bad and good experience thrown your way.”

 

In addition to Airmen seeing all days, regardless of the circumstance, as a learning experience, Cardona believed it’s most important to set goals and have something to always look forward to.

 

“I look forward to attending the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” he expressed. “If it wasn’t for the close proximity from Misawa AB to the event, I know I wouldn’t have a chance at attending, so I am forever grateful for my orders here. I haven’t experienced this much adventure, fun and personal growth before.”