Faces of Fairford: Contracting

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jennifer Zima
  • 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

Meet Staff Sgt. Samatha Henderson, 509th Contracting Squadron contracting officer, and 2nd Lt. Shawn Edgecomb, 509th Contracting Squadron officer in charge of operation flights, deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, to RAF Fairford, England, in support of Bomber Task Force Europe.


501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs: “What has it been like working here at Fairford?”

2nd Lt. Shawn Edgecomb: “It’s definitely interesting, because we’re given the opportunity to integrate into the next phase of this base. Going from a moth-ball installation to more of a full-time operations base. Being on the ground floor and helping with some of the logistics and supplies that go into that, to help us execute our mission in coming years, has definitely been valuable experience on our part.”


PA: “Who’s working with you to help support the operation at Fairford?”

Staff Sgt. Samatha Henderson: “We’re the only two from contracting. We go to the Operations building every day. We have to get everything we purchase approved through our point of contacts over there. Civil Engineering (CE) have helped us find a lot of things and gave us tips where to find things in town.” 

Edgecomb: “We also work with 420th Air Base Squadron a lot here. They’ve been a big support. They’re the base installation support squadron, and they have CE integrated within them. They’ve given us a lot of helping hands in making connections both on and off base.”


PA: “What is it like to do your job?”

Henderson: “We’ve been using our Government Purchase Cards. Anything they need purchased: the rental vehicles, miscellaneous office supplies, phones minutes, etc. They’ll bring it to us and we just go shopping!”

Egdecomb: “We’re supporting the BTF. We’re pulling from the pot of money for the BTF for the B-2s. We support the 250 people that came with the BTF.”


PA: “How does it feel to be part of this operation here?”

Edgecomb: “It’s pretty cool! There’s a lot of history in this area, especially going all the way back to World War II and the missions that were launched here. Just being able to drive around local communities and see that history of the 8th Air Force and other units that have been a part of the history that happened here has definitely been valuable. From that perspective, continuing the story here has been pretty cool.”


PA: “How does your job contribute to the BTF operation?"

Edgecomb: “We’re professional shoppers for the Air Force. Our job here is to buy anything and everything that’s needed to support the mission. Whether it’s an ink pen or a fuel hose that is broken and needs to be replaced. We’re the connection between the pot of money and any supplies that the BTF needs.”


PA: “How do you stay motivated in your day-to-day grind?”

Edgecomb: “Even though it’s not what most people would consider to be a typical deployment, the thing that always seems to help me with deployments is a routine. You get into a routine based on knowing the area and based on knowing what your job is. The first couple days or weeks you’re figuring it out, and then in the last four weeks we’re operating in that same routine that we’ve developed based on understanding our partners, and what they need from us here and what the local landscape looks like. The other part of that is just staying interested and engaged in what kind of opportunities we have here to travel, to see other cultures and other parts of the world. That’s definitely a big part of staying motivated.”


PA: “How do you connect to the bigger mission?”

Henderson: “We’re purchasing so people can perform their mission.”

Edgecomb: “We’re the connection between that funding that’s set aside for this mission and actually putting the supplies in the members’ hands. A lot of it is very tactical. For example, we need this printer so we can print our mission plans for this flight to be able to go generate this aircraft. It sounds trivial: we went out and bought the printer. We’re enabling that mission through the small things just like everyone else is, through the small things that we do to ultimately launch that aircraft. Another part of our job is quality of life and morale. We just bought some shop fans for maintenance, because they have no Heating, Cooling and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system in their hangar. We’re able to get them a big 30-inch fan, which costs a couple hundred bucks, but it’s going to change their quality of life. It’s both the tactical side and the quality of life side for the individual members.