Face of Defense: Airman’s Transition Helps Self, Air Force to Grow


There are more than 300,000 active service members in the Air Force, with professions ranging from pilots to space operations officers.

Airman poses wearing flight suit.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Parra, currently a satellite systems operator with the 2nd Space Operations Squadron, is pictured in his new flight suit at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., April 23, 2018. Parra has recently returned from training to be a flight engineer. He is one of many airmen pursuing critically manned career fields to meet the Air Force’s needs. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class William Tracy
Airman poses wearing flight suit. Flight Engineer
Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Parra, currently a satellite systems operator with the 2nd Space Operations Squadron, is pictured in his new flight suit at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., April 23, 2018. Parra has recently returned from training to be a flight engineer. He is one of many airmen pursuing critically manned career fields to meet the Air Force’s needs. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class William Tracy

Maintaining global dominance in air, space and cyberspace requires different numbers of personnel in different career fields, often fluctuating in demand, and for those specialties that are critically manned, every airman is key.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Parra, currently a satellite systems operator with the 2nd Space Operations Squadron here, recently completed flight engineer training.

Critically Manned Specialty

“A big drive for me was to go into something that was critically manned, in addition to it already being something I wanted to do,” he said.

Parra said he is excited to begin his new journey working as a flight engineer on a C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft and that his time as a space airman will greatly assist him.

“The crew coordination between satellite operators within 2nd SOPS puts you in a mindset that it’s not just you out there, it’s a whole operations floor -- the discipline they drill into us, following checklists. that’s exactly how it is on an aircraft,” he said. “It’s definitely going to translate to my new role. On a C-5M Super Galaxy, like a satellite, you are looking at so many telemetry points, things constantly changing, constantly adapting, while at the same time listening for the pilot’s communications to ground control.”

Parra added, “The atmosphere of the 2nd SOPS operations floor helped prepare me for it.”

Helpful Leaders, Comrades

His leaders and fellow airmen helped him to reach his goals, Parra said. “I was worried at first they were going to be insulted that I wished to retrain,” he added. “I didn’t know what the reaction was going to be, but they’ve helped me through everything.”

One of Parra’s mentors was Air Force 1st. Lt. Justine Pescetello-Parr, staff instructor with the 50th Operations Support Squadron.

“He sets the example for others to follow in every duty he performs on base and off,” Pescetello-Parr said of Parra. “He has the ability to remain calm and positive during very difficult and stressful situations. If he sees something wrong, he takes the steps to correct it and will not stop until the problem is fixed.”