I Am An American Airman – Staff Sgt. Alyssa Farren
By Mr. Timothy Sandland, 102nd Intelligence Wing
/ Published March 01, 2018
OTIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. -- Look up “American Airman” in the dictionary and you just might find a photo of Staff Sgt. Alyssa Farren, a Personnel Specialist assigned to the 202nd Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group.
Originally from Mashpee, Mass., Sgt. Farren joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard in 2013.
Following in the footsteps of family members, she says their service is one of the main reasons she felt compelled to sign up. “I decided to join for many reasons but the most important to me is my family legacy”, she said. “My grandfather served in the United States Navy during the Cuban Missile Crisis and my cousin is currently serving as an Infantryman in the United States Army, deploying for his fourth time in just a few weeks.”
A full-time technician in the ANG, Farren is assigned to the Commander’s Support Staff, assisting the Airmen of the 202 ISRG. Farren said, “I am responsible for all of the promotions, performance reports and awards and decorations for the 200 Airmen assigned to my unit.” Along with her fellow co-workers, they also support the group command staff, as well as each squadron commander and first sergeant within the group.
“It’s a lot of work but I really like it – helping Airmen with their careers is rewarding”, she said.
Early last year Farren deployed to Southwest Asia supporting Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom Sentinel. “I served as an Immigrations Technician, supporting the immigration and visa requirements for over 3,000 personnel. I learned a lot during that deployment about our host-nation relationships and how they are so integral in ensuring mission accomplishment”, she explained.
Of the language barrier Farren said, “Working side by side with someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you, or doesn’t have the same cultural background as you can be difficult, but it was very interesting and rewarding. It was really cool experience.” Fortunately, she worked with a group of linguists that helped with translation.
Confirmation of her professionalism and hard work came when Farren was coined by the Commander of Air Combat Command, General James Holmes, who was on a site visit along with Chief Master Sgt. Frank Batten, the ACC Command Chief.
It was Farren’s first deployment.
There were a number of familiar faces when she arrived on a split rotation – 102nd Airmen who were from different units back at Otis. “You have familiarity but you don’t really know these people well – by the time you get back you have a close knit group of friends.” Farren continued, “They knew what was what and really took me under their wing.”
A junior at Bridgewater State University, Farren is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice. “I am using the incredible education benefits the Massachusetts National Guard has given me. My ultimate goal is to work for the Department of Justice, specifically for the Drug Enforcement Agency.”
That would mean leaving the guard on a full-time basis which Farren admits wouldn’t be easy. “I’m not exactly sure what my path is yet. I love working here full-time and would love to get a commission once I get my degree.”
Throughout her growth and experience in the military, Farren has discovered the importance of support from family. “Families are the backbone of the United States Armed Forces.” she said. “Time and time again, as military members, we realize the sacrifices our families make to let us serve this country - without their support we wouldn’t be able to do it.”
Looking back through her time in the service, Farren’s definition of “family” has expanded. In reflection, she said, “Family is not always blood – I think one of the most invaluable benefits of being in the guard is how close we are and how we all support one another.” She added, “I consider the members of the 102nd Intelligence Wing my family and my support system. This was especially true as I served with other members from the 102nd overseas. I knew I could count on every single one of them to help and guide me through my first deployment.”
As for her “family’s” legacy of service – Staff Sgt. Alyssa Farren is a proud part of that same military heritage that inspired her to serve in the first place – with her family at home, and the one here… at the 102nd Intelligence Wing.