104FW Airman supports Capitol Response mission
By Staff Sgt. Hanna Smith, 104th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 19, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Since January, the Massachusetts Army and Air National Guard have partnered with other National Guard units from across the country to provide ongoing security, communication, medical, evacuation, logistical and safety support to United States Capitol civil authorities.
Out on this operation is Massachusetts Air National Guardsman Senior Airman Dorian Ayala, who has been on mission since mid-April as an immediate response force member.
“As an IRF team member my responsibilities, along with many others in our unit, is to assist civil authorities in protecting the nation’s capital and citizens from civil unrest,” said Ayala.
The experience of being in Washington D.C. on this mission was both meaningful and memorable for Ayala.
“Getting the chance to be a part of and experience National Guard units and members from across the country come together for this mission was remarkable,” said Ayala. “The most memorable part of this experience was when I got the chance to be posted around the Capitol building during President Biden’s first annual address to Congress in April. I was among a select few who got the opportunity to salute the presidential motorcade as it passed the post.”
Back at the 104th Fighter Wing, Ayala is a traditional guardsman and an avionics test station technician assigned to the 104th Maintenance Squadron. He will have been with the unit for a year this summer.
“Being an avionics test station technician entails ensuring our aircraft’s electronic systems are calibrated and functioning properly,” said Ayala. “These systems can range anywhere from aircraft radars to pilot controls and communication systems, among many others.”
Ayala credited his experiences in the Air Force for preparing him for this operation.
“Before coming to the 104th Fighter Wing about a year ago, I was active duty in the Air Force for eight years as a radar, airfield and weather systems technician,” said Ayala. “From my almost 10 years in the service, the number one thing that I learned that prepared me for this mission was the importance of being able to adapt to unexpected circumstances.”
Outside of the military, Ayala is a civilian electronics technician at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, where he works on maintaining air traffic communications, instrument landing systems and weather systems. Ayala also recently won the civilian employee of the quarter award at the base.
While both Ayala’s military and civilian careers keep him busy, he still has some goals he is working to achieve.
“Currently the main goals I am working toward include achieving a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and commissioning as an Air Force officer down the road,” said Ayala. “I want to take advantage of all of the opportunities that I can to grow as a person and a leader.”
If Ayala could pass on one thing to others that he has learned throughout his experiences, it would be to understand the important difference between a teacher and a mentor.
“Learn the difference between a mentor and a teacher,” said Ayala. “While they seem similar they’re noticeably different. From my experience, a teacher will train you to do a job or task; a mentor will set you up for growth both in your career and in life.”