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Airmen behind the lens

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman BrieAnna Stillman, 20th Fighter Wing photojournalist, posses for a picture with her equipment at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Jan. 25, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman BrieAnna Stillman, 20th Fighter Wing photojournalist, posses for a picture with her equipment at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Jan. 25, 2019. Airmen within the public affairs office document the Air Force story, coordinate with media and ensure a strong bond with the surrounding community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman BrieAnna Stillman)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kathryn Reaves, 20th Fighter Wing photojournalist, sets a photo illustration at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Jan. 25, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kathryn Reaves, 20th Fighter Wing photojournalist, sets a photo illustration at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Jan. 25, 2019. Photojournalists and broadcast journalists bring the Air Force story to life and educate the general public about its missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman BrieAnna Stillman)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Many people see photos and videos of maintainers working, jets flying and Airmen throughout the Air Force serving their country, but who are the Airmen behind the lens?

I have a unique job that enables me to educate the public about what Airmen do and keeps the Air Force story alive.

Through my journey as a public affairs specialist, I have had the privilege of being a jack of all trades, varying from turning a wrench on an F-16 Fighting Falcon to learning how to jump out of planes.

I have acquired knowledge which has given me a better understanding of what Airmen go through on a day-to-day basis and in different scenarios while serving their country. It is my job to share their story with the world.

For example, on a hot, sticky, humid day, I was on the flightline with maintainers because I was writing a story about what they do. In the scorching sun, I was doing less than half the work they were, and I was drenched in my own sweat.

That experience helped me better understand why maintainers need a break from the flightline and why their hours should be managed appropriately. Their taxing work takes place in all types of weather; the mission stops for no one.

Of course, learning all about the Air Force and passing on that knowledge is not all the job consists of.

I have the ability to work with all the branches of the military and learn the ins and outs of how each service works.

Needless to say, we, public affairs Airmen, work with many other people while communicating with the surrounding community, escorting local media and documenting the Air Force story. We also document and coordinate tours for distinguished visitors, like generals or even the President.

Considering everything that my job entails, it becomes increasingly apparent to me that the opportunities to learn new things, network, and the ability to make a direct impact on the Air Force is endless.