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Logistics manager, former instructor has new assignment: training officers

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - Master Sgt. Don Pierson laughs as he checks the tire pressure on a government van here May 10, 2016, while managing his morning duties at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center. Pierson is preparing for a reassignment after more than 10 years' service on campus. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith/Released)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - Master Sgt. Don Pierson laughs as he checks the tire pressure on a government van here May 10, 2016, while managing his morning duties at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center. Pierson is preparing for a reassignment after more than 10 years' service on campus. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith/Released)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - Master Sgt. Don Pierson stops on just outside the Patriot Hall building here May 10, 2016, while managing his morning duties. Pierson is the Logistics manager as well as a former enlisted professional military education instructor for the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center. He is being reassigned to Texas after more than 10 years' service on campus. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith/Released)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - Master Sgt. Don Pierson stops on just outside the Patriot Hall building here May 10, 2016, while managing his morning duties. Pierson is the Logistics manager as well as a former enlisted professional military education instructor for the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center. He is being reassigned to Texas after more than 10 years' service on campus. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith/Released)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - Logistics Manager, Master Sgt. Don Pierson, left, and Master Sgt. Jose A. Santiago, Services manager, perform periodic maintenance on government vehicles here May 10, 2016, while managing morning duties at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center. Pierson is preparing for reassignment after more than 10 years' service on campus. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith/Released)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - Logistics Manager, Master Sgt. Don Pierson, left, and Master Sgt. Jose A. Santiago, Services manager, perform periodic maintenance on government vehicles here May 10, 2016, while managing morning duties at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center. Pierson is preparing for reassignment after more than 10 years' service on campus. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith/Released)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - Logistics Manager, Master Sgt. Don Pierson, right, and Master Sgt. Jose A. Santiago, Services manager, break down boxes disguarded at the recycle area here May 10, 2016, at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center. Pierson is preparing Santiago for many unrealized and unseen support duties on campus before he departs for a reassignment in Texas. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith/Released)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - Logistics Manager, Master Sgt. Don Pierson, right, and Master Sgt. Jose A. Santiago, Services manager, break down boxes disguarded at the recycle area here May 10, 2016, at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center. Pierson is preparing Santiago for many unrealized and unseen support duties on campus before he departs for a reassignment in Texas. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith/Released)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. -- When Master Sgt. Don Pierson is on campus, he's likely into something unforeseen ... if you can track him. Each day changes, as if through a Magic 8-Ball. It shakes up, and the random possibilities go from "Outlook Good" to "Ask Again Later."    

During his last four years at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center, Pierson, the logistics manager, carried many spur-of-the-moment duties. It wasn't always that way.

"I started out here with Airman leadership school and then taught both NCO academy and ALS, whatever they needed," he said. "But I was on the verge of losing my career field because I was out of it for so long. They needed a supply Airman here, and I'm a supply guy by trade anyway."

So he served in logistics since 2012, and went from highly structured days with students to the more fluid needs of 80+ staff.

"I wear a lot of hats," he said last week while at the same time ordering supplies on his computer. "I've a lot of projects going on ..." He sat behind his desk crowded with paperwork, tools and packages.

Pierson's service not only returned him to his career field but also made him the go-to guy for many things. Much of the work is not necessarily logistics, but rather, it's the behind the scenes stuff that gears campus operations.

Last year, Pierson received an important message about his future - a reassignment to Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. He will soon serve as a military training instructor for aspiring officers. It's a position that he wanted, but preferably back when he was teaching.

He remains optimistic. It's not like this reassignment is a Death Star that orbits him, but he wants to prepare himself mentally as well as physically to "walk the talk" again as an Air Force instructor.

"Don will be missed as the link in the chain that holds TEC together to get the mission done, for everyone," said Senior Master Sgt. Steven Monks, superintendent of Cyber Operations. "He was always the catch-all of the jobs or task that no one wanted or would do. If you asked him to do something, he'd never ask 'why,' he just did it."

Pierson said that a well-rounded attitude serves him. He made many friends on base and in the community during the last 10 years.

"My going away is going to be emotional ... there's a lot of people who I will miss from the organization and from the area," he said.

Pierson grew up in Texas and moved to Maine when he was 12. He joined the Maine Air National Guard and worked his way up to full-time technician duty as equipment manager for the base's logistics readiness squadron at Bangor International Airport. He spent some time attached to the civil engineer squadron.

Pierson and his wife like to watch movies. They married in December inside the Wingman Hall building and they invited Airmen to attend. He is a self-proclaimed science fiction "nerd" who has read most of the Star Wars novels, not to mention countless other books, movies and video games - he owns several game machines.

Many who know Pierson see him at the Wilson Hall activities building, where he ensures the fitness equipment, its stations and workout rooms are kept clean and in working order. He plays basketball and volleyball there too as well as plays racquetball off the base.

"I don't have a typical day," he said. "It varies, based on what happens ... like today - I came in with one project in mind and ended up with another project going on. People call me, looking for stuff. Today I did a safety walk through. I also manage all the [government] vehicles to make sure they are ready to go."

He drives a small electric wagon. He hauls packages from base supply, water to the running track, and cardboard to the recycling bin. (He breaks down discarded recyclables, sternly, and hopes that recycling continues in his absence.) He purchases new state flags and flies them when the old ones along the main road fade out. Not to mention, there's those tasks that simply appear.

But Pierson said that logistics does have something you can count on, despite its tentative ins and outs.

"There's always something to do, and if not, there's always something to find to do."