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Role reversal: Command chief, Airman trade jobs

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Senior Airman Meagan Blankenship ( far left), 21st Medical Group Bioenvironmental Engineering technician and Chief Master Sgt. Idalia Peele (second from left), 21st Space Wing command chief, discuss current matters of the wing during a working lunch with chief master sergeants from other 21st Space Wing units at The Club, March 18. Blankenship spent the day with Peele as part of a newly implemented shadow program, which affords Peele the opportunity to better know the Airmen of the 21st Space Wing, and to allow junior Airmen a chance to see the “big picture” and better understand how and why base-impacting decisions are made. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J. Aaron Breeden)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Senior Airman Meagan Blankenship ( far left), 21st Medical Group Bioenvironmental Engineering technician and Chief Master Sgt. Idalia Peele (second from left), 21st Space Wing command chief, discuss current matters of the wing during a working lunch with chief master sergeants from other 21st Space Wing units at The Club, March 18. Blankenship spent the day with Peele as part of a newly implemented shadow program, which affords Peele the opportunity to better know the Airmen of the 21st Space Wing, and to allow junior Airmen a chance to see the “big picture” and better understand how and why base-impacting decisions are made. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J. Aaron Breeden)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Senior Airman Meagan Blankenship, 21st Medical Group Bioenvironmental Engineering technician, instructs Chief Master Sgt. Idalia Peele, 21st Space Wing command chief, on the proper use of a HAZMAT identification unit used to identify hazardous materials or chemical warfare agents at the 21st Bioenvironmental Engineer squadron, March 18. This experience was part of a newly implemented shadow program, which gives Peele the opportunity to better know the Airmen of the 21st Space Wing, and to allow junior Airmen a chance to see the “big picture” and better understand how and why base-impacting decisions are made. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J. Aaron Breeden)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Senior Airman Meagan Blankenship, 21st Medical Group Bioenvironmental Engineering technician, instructs Chief Master Sgt. Idalia Peele, 21st Space Wing command chief, on the proper use of a HAZMAT identification unit used to identify hazardous materials or chemical warfare agents at the 21st Bioenvironmental Engineer squadron, March 18. This experience was part of a newly implemented shadow program, which gives Peele the opportunity to better know the Airmen of the 21st Space Wing, and to allow junior Airmen a chance to see the “big picture” and better understand how and why base-impacting decisions are made. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J. Aaron Breeden)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Senior Airman Meagan Blankenship, 21st Medical Group Bioenvironmental Engineering technician, assists Chief Master Sgt. Idalia Peele, 21st Space Wing command chief, into a Level A fully-encapsulating suit used to protect the wearer from chemical agents and splash hazards, at the 21st Bioenvironmental Engineer squadron, March 18. This experience was part of a newly implemented shadow program, which gives Peele the opportunity to better know the Airmen of the 21st Space Wing, and to allow junior Airmen a chance to see the “big picture” and better understand how and why base-impacting decisions are made. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J. Aaron Breeden)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Senior Airman Meagan Blankenship, 21st Medical Group Bioenvironmental Engineering technician, assists Chief Master Sgt. Idalia Peele, 21st Space Wing command chief, into a Level A fully-encapsulating suit used to protect the wearer from chemical agents and splash hazards, at the 21st Bioenvironmental Engineer squadron, March 18. This experience was part of a newly implemented shadow program, which gives Peele the opportunity to better know the Airmen of the 21st Space Wing, and to allow junior Airmen a chance to see the “big picture” and better understand how and why base-impacting decisions are made. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J. Aaron Breeden)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- For two days, March 18-19, Senior Airman Meagan Blankenship, 21st Medical Group Bioenvironmental Engineering technician, shadowed Chief Master Sgt. Idalia Peele, 21st Space Wing command chief, as part of a program geared to give the two parties a closer look at what the other's job entails.

Peele said the intent of the program is to afford her the opportunity to better know the Airmen of the 21st Space Wing, and to allow junior Airmen a chance to see the "big picture" and better understand how and why base-impacting decisions are made.

On day one, Blankenship filled the Chief's seat in meetings and at base events, often at the surprise of those around her. Once she'd quelled her nerves, Blankenship said she enjoyed the experience and that it was truly eye-opening.

"Primarily I only have to focus on my job," said Blankenship. "But I realized that as a command chief you have to literally pay attention to everybody."

Blankenship said that having a strategic-level view and seeing more clearly how different base agencies interacted was quite impressive.

Day two began as Peele donned a Level A fully-encapsulating suit to learn the intricacies of a Bioenvironmental Engineering technician's duties. Blankenship then showed Peele how to identify hazardous materials and chemical warfare agents using the HAZMAT identification unit.

Afterward the two journeyed to the 302nd Airlift Wing's structural maintenance shop to take air samples, ensuring a hazard-free work environment for one of Team Pete's many tenant units.

Overall the experience left a lasting impact on both Peele and Blankenship.

Peele said she had a newfound appreciation for the work of the 21st Bioenvironmental Engineering personnel.

"Teamwork is very important in the execution of their mission," said Peele.

She added that she was impressed with Blankenship's pride and passion.

"You can tell she really loves her job and the Air Force," said Peele. "After every meeting (Blankenship) attended as the command chief, she had some great ideas on how we can improve processes or make a bigger impact on our Airmen."

Blankenship shared a similar sentiment and said that this experience helped her realize new career objectives.

"It was cool to see what everyone is going through as a whole," said Blankenship. "I knew I wanted to be in the military, but I didn't know I wanted to be a command chief one day. The shadow program made that a goal for me."

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