Air Force

August 8, 2013

The flying interpreter

Airman 1st Class Saphfire Cook
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

For most Airmen, graduating from technical school means joining the operational Air Force and settling in at their first duty station. But some Airmen chart a different course. Technical Sgt. Breana Reyes, 55th Electronic Combat Group command language manager, spent her first five years after tech school flying around the world with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

Reyes joined the Air Force as a flying linguist. She spent two years at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., where she became fluent in Russian.

After tech school she was headed for Offut AFB, Neb., but she heard of another opportunity.

“I found out about the DTRA initially when I was in the basic course at tech school,” Reyes said. “I was so excited. This magical agency existed where you get to use your language all the time and you get to really be an interpreter.”

Even though the agency preferred applicants to have at least four stripes, Reyes tried her luck and applied as a senior Airman.

Her risk paid off and she left for training in 2004. She went back to DLI for a year to complete the Russian Arms Speaking Proficiency course. Once that was complete, Reyes headed to Ft. Belvoir, Va., to be assigned her first mission.

“There are a lot of different treaties that involve the U.S. and Russia at DTRA,” Reyes said. “I worked in one called Open Skies.”

She became an interpreter sensor operator. Her primary duties were to fly over Russian territories and record imagery from the bottom of the aircraft.

“We flew in a special aircraft that allowed us to capture aerial imagery,” Reyes said. “Part of my job was to operate the sensor that took the photos. The other part, as an interpreter, was to handle all the negotiation, treaties and stipulations as well as air traffic control communications.”

More than 30 countries participated in Open Skies, and she could act as an interpreter for any one of them.

“There was an instance where Italy called us and said they needed someone to handle air traffic control communications for one of their missions in to Russia, so we did a joint mission with them,” Reyes said. “There were only two Americans on the aircraft, including me. Everyone else was Italian. I handled all the air traffic control flying through Moscow with an Italian crew on an Italian aircraft.”

As a young staff sergeant, Reyes traveled in civilian clothes on a diplomatic visa and said being a representative of the U.S. came with certain expectations.

“The level of responsibility that you have and the level of visibility on you is pretty crazy,” Reyes said. “At 23 years old I went to the U.S. Department of State and interpreted for bilateral negotiations.”

After three years as an interpreter sensor operator, she began traveling with DTRA.

“A lot of the opportunities at DTRA are for ground personnel, so that’s who the recruiters targeted,” Reyes said. “But Open Skies began to suffer, so I started traveling with the recruiter so that I could speak specifically to the flyers. From there personalities just gelled, and one day they asked if I wanted to be a recruiter for DTRA full time.”

She recruited from 2008 to 2011.

“The job offered so many fantastic opportunities that really all I had to do was set up shop and then wait for people to line up,” Reyes said.

The DTRA program is open to any military applicant. You do not have to be in the language field, but you must speak Russian at an appropriate level.

“I think DTRA is a great exercise in openness and transparency,” “We’re [Russia and the U.S.] two countries that for the longest time didn’t see eye-to-eye on anything and now we can come together and fly in the same aircraft while taking pictures of each other’s territories. That’s pretty phenomenal.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
(U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Drzazgowski)

Grappling, pummeling, trapping: 162nd Airmen learn to ‘close with the enemy’

MARANA, Ariz. – The words on the gym wall summed it up best for 13 security forces specialists who trained at the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site here March 17-21. “The defining characteristic of a ...
 
 

Air Force launches new program to capture innovative ideas

WASHINGTON (AFNS) – Air Force officials announced the creation of a new program April 4, designed to harness Airmen’s innovation. Airmen Powered by Innovation, or API, will replace three existing Air Force “good idea” programs – the Innovative Development through Employee Awareness, Productivity Enhancing Capital Investment, and Best Practices programs – and expand the role o...
 
 

AF opens additional TERA, VSP windows

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) – The Air Force will open two new fiscal year 2014 force management temporary early retirement authority application windows, and a new voluntary separation pay application window, Air Force Personnel Center officials said April 14. Commonly referred to as the 15-year retirement, TERA eligibility will be based on the updated...
 

 

The emotionless leader: Trusted and respected by Airmen

LAJES FIELD, Azores (AFNS) – “I don’t want to hurt her career.” “He’s the best NCO I’ve got. I don’t want to see him lose a stripe.” How many times have you heard someone in a leadership position make statements such as these when contemplating disciplinary actions when an Airman or NCO makes a terrible decision?...
 
 

AF updates officer, enlisted voluntary force management eligibility lists

Select Airmen in specific categories who were not formerly eligible for fiscal year 2014 force management voluntary separation are now being offered voluntary separation. These individuals will not be subject to involuntary programs in fiscal 2014. Officers from 33 Air Force specialty codes by year group and enlisted Airmen from seven AFSCs by grade are...
 
 
USAFBlue

USAFA Wings of Blue

Each year, the Wings of Blue Demonstration Team performs at more than 50 special events in front of over 2 million spectators. Demonstration venues include airshows, NFL and College football games, and special events across the...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin