Lodging: Customer service, point-blank

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher
  • 386th Air Expedtionary Wing Public Affairs
For the thousands of Airmen and Soldiers passing through the Rock on their way to and from deployments, the last thing they want to hear after days sitting in airport terminals and cramped airliner seats is that there's nowhere to sleep and that no one's been expecting them.

For the nine members of the 386th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron's lodging flight, it's a personal goal that those servicemembers never have to feel that way.

Responsible for bedding down up to 4,000 transient servicemembers per month, the lodging flight has a simple task - make sure everyone has a place to lay their head at night.

"Nobody will go without a bed," said Master Sgt. Carmen Kubiak, 386th EFSS Lodging superintendent, deployed from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. "We've lodged everyone here from British contractors to Royal Australian Air Force, Marines, Navy... We support them all."

The process of making sure everyone who needs a place to stay has one is no easy task, according to Senior Airman Maurice Monroe, 386th EFSS lodging front desk representative, also deployed from Malmstrom. It often starts before the sun is up and requires coordination with first sergeants and the 386th PERSCO team.

"We usually have a manifest with the outbound and inbound flights," Airman Monroe said. "If there's an inbound manifest, we work with the first shirts to assign rooms to the people coming through."

While rooms and tents are being coordinated, it falls to a two-person team to make sure the tents are ready to receive boarders.

"We have a team, Tiger Team, that goes out daily and cleans and clears the tents," Sergeant Kubiak said. "They do head-count checks, making sure our system matches what we physically have out there because we do have people who will leave without signing out. They make sure the tent is clean for the next occupant, that it's in good condition. The Tiger Team is our eyes-on for Tent City."

The concept of a lodging Tiger Team was thought up by the lodging team here at the Rock. It's not a requirement, but they do it anyway.

"We do it because that's our job," Sergeant Kubiak, a Polson, Mont., native said. "Our job is customer service, and we're here to provide the best customer service. That's our job, point-blank."

The Tiger Team has already improved conditions at Tent City and is constantly finding ways to improve even more.

"When we first got here, Tent City was in pretty bad shape," Airman Monroe said.

Lodging installed trash cans at the front of every tent, and the Tiger Team does perimeter checks, looking for trash. They've recently added new features to their routine.

"Recently what we've been doing is making the beds for the DVs, cleaning the showers, making sure it's really neat for them," the Alexandria, La., native added.

While the lodging crew is more than happy to help distinguished visitors settle in, Sergeant Kubiak said it's the troops coming through on their way home that makes it worth it.

"It's when we get these Army troops who are going down range or coming from down range," said Sergeant Kubiak. "They appreciate a simple tent, a simple bed. It's knowing that they come from down range, where they probably don't sleep in a bed, probably don't have linen, and they come here and we provide those simple things for them and they appreciate it."

The effort has not been lost on deployers transiting through the base. Tech. Sgt. Dewaine Olsen Jr., an independent duty medical technician deploying from the 21st Medical Group at Petersen AFB, Colo., spent a week in Tent City on his way to Iraq. With six previous deployments under his belt, he said the quality of the facilities here surprised him.

"I told my wife this was like a little resort," he joked. "I knew we were coming into tents, but I didn't know they had beds. It was a welcome sight. The heater worked. I wasn't expecting that. Not bad at all."

Sergeant Kubiak said hearing those kinds of comments makes the long day worth it.

"These guys here, they feed off it and they love it," she said. "People take two seconds to fill out a comment card and say 'thank you for what you did.' We appreciate it."

Airman Monroe agreed, saying his mission makes it possible for others to complete theirs.

"I get to form a connection with most of the people coming through," he said. "Most of the people who come through here, when they come to lodging, they're just looking for somewhere to sit down, a place to lay their head. It puts a smile on my face to get these people linen so they can bed down and sleep at night so they can get up and perform their mission."