More than just managers: dorm leaders leading the way

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Amanda Jett
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

At Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, one small team of airman dorm leaders manage multiple dormitories which house over 360 occupants. The ADL team is composed of four active-duty noncommissioned officers from various Air Force backgrounds and one civilian employee.

No matter what traditional background they came from, the group all share the same goal as an ADL team: to mentor and manage the dorms in order to provide Airmen with the best quality of life they can.

“Some days we're more focused on the facilities and other days we’re focused more on the Airmen,” said Staff Sgt. James Sorensen, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron ADL. “But without the facilities being in a good condition, we’re not taking care of the Airmen.”

Included in the duties of an ADL are: in- and out-processing residents, providing preventive maintenance, and coordinating dorm repairs.

For many of the Airmen living in the dorms, the ADLs are more than just people who put work orders in. They are mentors that give advice, not only to help Airmen adjust to Air Force culture, but also life.

“There's definitely a lot of Airmen that come to us for guidance,” said Tech. Sgt. Adam Thompson, 436th CES ADL. “We're in uniform, but we're not anywhere in their chain of command, so they feel a little more relaxed to ask questions.”

Recently, one Airman from the dorms was preparing for his first flight as a C-17 Globemaster III loadmaster with the 3rd Airlift Squadron, a job that consists of properly loading, securing and transporting cargo and passengers around the globe. Doing anything for the first time can be a little nerve-racking, let alone ensuring everything and everyone's safety during airlift missions all over the world.

Fortunately for that Airman, Staff Sgt. Joshua Hicks was a loadmaster before his special duty as an ADL. Hicks provided advice and explained what to expect before, during and after the flight, helping ease the Airman’s anxiety.

“Each ADL in here is [from] a different trade,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Harris, 436th CES ADL. “As Airmen come in, they have different avenues to go, and different experiences to learn from.”

Mentoring doesn’t just apply to Air Force topics either. For a lot of the Airmen living in the dorms, this is their first time away from home and living on their own.

“I joke about the EZ-Pass because it’s what I preach about the most,” said Thompson. “Half the Airmen, when they get here don't have vehicles, some occasionally don't have a license, or have never been to the East Coast before where there are toll roads.”

Mentoring might not be in the official description for an ADL, but it certainly can be a rewarding aspect that comes with the job.

“I think mentoring is probably one of the biggest perks,” said Hicks. “At the end of the day, everyone needs someone to help guide them toward the right path and we're here, as people, to help them grow.”