Keeping 18 EMS mobilized

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Reynaldo Ramon
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan - Tech. Sgt. Luz Swanner's life is not a common one. A Columbian who lived in Queens, New York, her story begins as a poor, single mom trying to make ends meet. She worked full time and went to school full time.

"When I was 17 no one thought I was going to make it," she said. "I needed to get my son out of New York."

Sergeant Swanner was at a crossroads of life and apted for a fresh start in the Air Force.
"I joined the military because of my son," she said.

The military can be very demanding and cumbersome at times, for a single mother.

Feeling the daily stress of being pulled in a hundred different directions, she remembers why she keeps pressing forward.

"My child motivates me to get up and do what I need to do every day," Sergeant Swanner.
As unit deployment manager for the 18th Equipment Maintenance squadron, the NCO assures every Airman is deployable - from inspecting paperwork to providing equipment.

Sergeant Swanner tackles most of the wing's tenant units and her squadron flights. She processes more than 30 Airmen every Air and Space Expeditionary Force cycle and has
an impeccable "0" discrepancy rate compared to the average of "256."

"We can make or break the squadron," said Sergeant Swanner as she laughs and adds, "Well that's what I've been told."

After joining the Air Force, she stumbled onto more obstacles as an Airman, yet prevailed with help from a chief master sergeant who became involved with her development as an NCO. He bolstered her character and encouraged her to pursue an
education. Positively motivated, Sergeant Swanner decided to emulate him and set a
long-term goal to be a chief some day.

"He told me that there was nothing I couldn't do," she said. "Everything is within reach."

Sergeant Swanner says she has seen good chiefs and bad chiefs throughout her career. Her mind is set to be a "good" chief.

"A real chief," she said. "A chief people can follow."

Her short-term goal is to be a military training instructor.

As time passes by, she reminisces about her rough life in Queens. She remembers
struggling in the early years of her Air Force career. She also remembers vividly the 9-11
attack on the World Trade Center. Her mother was in one of the buildings.

"My mom was in the basement-level when the first tower was hit," she said. "It took me
an hour and a half to locate her."

Sergeant Swanner opines the attacks targeting civilians was wrong and should have been directed toward the military. Spending most of her time with family and close friends helps assuage her thoughts of 9-11. Sometimes to get a good laugh she watches her favorite movie, Napoleon Dynamite.

In the end, Sergeant Swanner appreciates the opportunity to prove her worth to
colleagues and most of all, her relatives in Queens.

Editor's note: Technical Sgt. Luz Swanner was selected for Warrior of the Week from 18th Equipment Maintenance Squadron.