Iceman in Action: Staff Sgt. Gregory Chmielewski

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --

Deploying is an important part of the Eielson Air Force Base mission to prepare, deploy and enable Airmen across the globe.

Whether someone is from the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron or from the base legal office, they have to prepare for a deployment with the same steps. One of those being proper weapons qualifications.

Staff Sgt. Gregory Chmielewski, a combat arms instructor from the 354th Security Forces Squadron, is one of the few Icemen to make sure this process goes “off without a hitch.”

“I chose to be a combat arms training and maintenance instructor because I enjoy interacting with Airmen,” said Chmielewski. “Day-to-day, you never know what you’re going to get as a CATM instructor. It could be teaching an Airman who doesn’t shoot often how to shoot an M4 or an M9 or you could be training a cop who handles guns every day. I get to learn different things every day from different people.”

Chmielewski joined the Air Force around 10 years ago as a security forces Airman, and from there he became interested in CATM.

“CATM is part of the Security Forces Squadron, but we’re a little different,” said Chmielewski. “We are what’s called a shred out, specifically a “B” shred, which means we are the only section in the Air Force that can do maintenance and train people on the weapons.”

CATM instructors are responsible for making sure the entire base gets qualified on the right weapons.

“My favorite part of my job is the interaction with the Airmen,” said Chmielewski. “I like to be right there helping someone hands-on.”

When the Sterling, Ohio native isn’t teaching Airmen how to fire or repairing weapons, Chmielewski enjoys the benefits of living in Alaska.

“I’m pretty invested in the Alaska lifestyle,” said Chmielewski. “We have 22 dogs at our house that we run sprint dog teams with.”

Similar to how a sled dog team works together to pull a rider, Chmielewski and the team at CATM work together to make sure Airmen get qualified and do the mission.

“Staff Sgt. Chmielewski is the wing point of contact for all range scheduling,” said Tech Sgt. Tommy Nelson, the 354th SFS noncommissioned officer in charge of combat arms. “Not only does he deal with units on base, but other Military and civilian law enforcement agencies in the interior.  All of this requires:  organization skills, flexibility and most importantly patience.”

 

Training around 1,100 people a year, Chmielewski does his part to make sure Airmen are prepared to fulfill the mission.

“Our job is important because we can’t send someone downrange if they don’t know what they’re doing with a rifle or a pistol,” said Chmielewski. “If someone’s deployed and they don’t know how to use their weapon in general what are they going to do? If they don’t know how to use it, they’re going to have a problem.”