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Don't let the uniform fool you

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Meghan Swanson, a dental technician with the 116th Air Control Wing, Georgia Air National Guard (ANG), adjusts settings on a Planmeca Promax imaging unit in preparation to give dental x-rays at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., May 2, 2013.  Swanson works in the 116th Medical Group as a full-time dual-status civil service employee whose position is tied to an ANG military position.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Roger Parsons/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Meghan Swanson, a dental technician with the 116th Air Control Wing, Georgia Air National Guard (ANG), adjusts settings on a Planmeca Promax imaging unit in preparation to give dental x-rays at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., May 2, 2013. Swanson works in the 116th Medical Group as a full-time dual-status civil service employee whose position is tied to an ANG military position. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Roger Parsons/Released)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Would you be surprised to know that right here at Robins Air Force Base, the Air National Guard' s 116th Air Control Wing employs more than 1000 Guardsmen where nearly 40 percent are employed as full-time civil service employees?

While many Air National Guardsmen serve on a part-time basis--sometimes known as "Weekend Warriors"--there are thousands of Guardsmen across the country that put on the Air Force uniform every day serving in dual-status positions as civilians tied to a military position.

"I joined the Guard as a weekender but when the opportunity came up to become a full-time technician I jumped at the chance," said Staff Sgt. Tina Sampson, an engineering assistant with the 116th Civil Engineering Squadron. "It has given me the opportunity to serve in the military full time and stay in my community where I have roots."

These roots run deep in many communities surrounding Robins Air Force Base where the employment of full-time Georgia Guardsmen has resulted in millions of dollars flowing into the local economy.

Aside from the economic impact, 116th ACW technicians provide the continuity and readiness to ensure the wing is prepared at all times to fulfill its federal and state missions.

The men and women tasked with this responsibility are your neighbors, fellow church members, parents of your children's friends, people you see every day in local businesses.

They are the same people who helped save lives and provide support when "The Blizzard of '93" hit Atlanta and floods devastated parts of Georgia in 1994. They have stood ready during numerous hurricanes, deployed to support Hurricane Katrina efforts and continually train to meet disaster when it strikes.

"While serving in the Air Guard full time, I not only serve my country as an E-8C Joint STARS surveillance radar supervisor, but I've had several opportunities in my career to respond to state emergencies," said Master Sgt. Tracy Fort, with the 116th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

"During the blizzard in 1993, we were patrolling Interstate 75 and came upon a stranded motorist who was in dire need of his dialysis treatment. We transported him to the hospital and back to his vehicle after his treatment was complete," shared Fort.

The 116 ACW provides joint airborne command and control, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and combat support forces to meet state and national objectives.