AMC sergeant serves in war against terrorism

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- It takes millions of people and parts to accomplish a successful Air Force mission. One Air Mobility Command sergeant manages $161 million in aircraft parts to keep B-1 Lancer pilots flying in the war against terrorism.

Senior Master Sgt. Jeff Shanahan kissed his family goodbye for the holidays when he deployed here to a Southwest Asia location in support of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. Since November, he has served as the base manager of supplies for more than 800 Air Force troops, providing all the necessary equipment to keep bombers and aerial refuelers in forward motion.

Halfway around the world from his home station at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., Sergeant Shanahan discovered the unique challenges of his wartime duties.

"At our home station, we are more specialized and not always exposed to the different aspects of our job," he said. "Here we do everything with less people and without all the comforts of home."

His shop labors to provide usable supplies for the mission, because they know what happens if they drop the ball.

"If serviceable parts aren't available for issue, or unserviceable parts aren't shipped back for repair in a timely manner, the mission will halt," Sergeant Shanahan said. "We're as vital to the mission as the pilots, maintenance personnel and transportation personnel. We are just one of the vital links that puts bombs on target."

Still, this deployment has proved to be the most difficult of Sergeant Shanahan's military career.

"This deployment is tougher, because this is the first time I've missed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's and family birthdays all during a single deployment," he said.

Although he misses his wife and four sons, the sergeant said he keeps the family ties tight by trusting in God, studying the Bible and keeping in contact with loved ones via telephone and the Internet.

"The Internet allows us to speak and see each other almost daily," he said

The Shanahans are no strangers to sacrificing time away from Dad for a greater cause. With retirement on the horizon in 2005, the supply superintendent continues to strive for excellence as a military professional. And he recognizes his influence on others' lives as a manager.

"As a leader, I can have a tremendous impact for better or worse on their attitudes and professionalism," Sergeant Shanahan said.

Those who work with the superintendent say he leads by example.

"He is very professional both on and off duty," said Tech. Sgt. Tami Cline, his coworker at the 40th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Flight. "He doesn't hesitate to correct individuals that aren't acting in a professional Air Force manner," she said.

The motive behind Sergeant Shanahan's professionalism is the same fire that led him to choose to serve his country.

"Freedom is not free and comes at a heavy cost. God has blessed our nation. It's important that we pass this on to our children, so that we will continue to preserve our way of life," he said.