08/09/04 — Base office sees information as its mission

View Archive

Base office sees information as its mission

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on August 9, 2004 2:00 PM

Helping deployed airmen feel closer to home is just one goal of the 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. It also helps tell the story of what the airmen are doing overseas.

"We are on the front lines and deploying everywhere," said Capt. Timothy Herritage, chief of public affairs.

They use their training to write stories and take photographs. The stories are sent back to Goldsboro and printed in the base paper, The Wright Times, so all of the families of the deployed airmen and local residents can stay informed on what the troops are doing in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries.

Sometimes the stories contain information that organizations like the American Red Cross and Surgeon General are interested in and, in those cases, the organizations receive copies.

Public affairs officials are also responsible for helping other media get the interviews and information they need to cover events.

The public affairs office, on Wright Brothers Drive on base, has been in a temporary location since March while its permanent office is being renovated. There are nine members of the public affairs team who report to Brig. Gen. Rick Rosborg, 4th Fighter Wing commander. Although several of them have only been at Seymour Johnson for a few months, they have adjusted quickly.

Herritage arrived in June from Langley Air Force Base. He oversees all of the office and reports to Rosborg. First Lt. Tana Stevenson, chief of media relations, arrived in June from Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Staff Sgt. Angela Pope, staff writer, has been on base since June and was stationed at Columbus Air Force Base.

The other public affairs officials are: 2nd Lt. Jamie Humphries, chief of internal information, who has been on base since September 2002; 2nd Lt. Tammie Adams, deputy chief of media relations, who arrived in January; Staff Sgt. Scott Eaton, noncommissioned officer in charge, who has been on base since January 2003; Senior Airman Samuel King, Wright Times editor, who arrived in January 2002; and Airman 1st Class J.G. Buzanowski, staff writer, who arrived in August 2002. Each attended the same Defense Information School.

Robin DeMark, deputy chief of public affairs and chief of community relations, has been at Seymour Johnson for three years and helps keep the strong bond between the base and the Goldsboro community. Bernadine Roy, secretary, is the most seasoned civilian employee in the office with 10 years of service.

The office should be getting another airman in September and a noncommissioned officer in December. It is considered to be a medium-sized office for an Air Force base, said Capt. Herritage.

All public affairs offices have three divisions -- media, internal and community relations. Media involves sending out press releases, publishing The Wright Times, putting information on the base marquees, updating the base Web site -- www.seymourjohnson.af.mil -- and being in charge of the commander's access channel. This is an on-base access channel with updates on events and information on deployments, hurricane preparation and snow days.

The Wright Times has won the best metro-sized base paper in Air Combat Command three years in a row and has been regarded as one of the best papers in the Air Force, said Buzanowski. It is distributed on Fridays, and its goal is to get the local word out to the airmen at home and abroad and also provide Air Force-wide news.

It also serves as the voice of the commander. It has a circulation on base of about 5,000, and copies are also sent to the Military Affairs Commission of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce and to other bases in the Air Force.

The paper contains stories about the base's accomplishments and provides helpful tips to those getting ready to deploy. Every public affairs official works on the paper in some way. Everything is done electronically, and some of the stories are placed on the base's Web site to make them available to a larger audience.

Herritage said that although members of the public affairs team have various backgrounds, they work together toward a common goal, which is to be the best source of information about Seymour Johnson.