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Linebacker of the Week: SSgt Merkley

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  • By U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn Preston

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Derek Merkley from the 36th Munitions Squadron was recognized as the 36th Wing’s Team Andersen Linebacker of the Week, Jan. 12, 2022.

The Team Andersen Linebacker of the Week recognizes outstanding enlisted, officer, civilian and total force personnel who have had an impact on achieving Team Andersen’s Mission, Vision and Priorities.

Merkley supervises the maintenance of 5.5 million dollars worth of Munitions Material
Handling Equipment. These efforts ensure the readiness of 83 War Reserve Material support equipment assets, the largest in the Pacific Air Forces Command. Assets such as these enable the Air Force, sister services, and allied nations to support in times of need.

“I have always liked the idea of serving my country and serving in the military,” Merkley said. “As far back as I can remember I talked about joining the military.”

Due to Andersen AFB’s unique location in the Indo-Pacific, materials experience an increased amount of corrosion due to the salt water in the air, breaking down equipment much quicker than it would in most other places. Through hard work and dedication, Merkley has improved corrosion prevention methods on Andersen AFB. His knowledge has led to the identification and repair of discrepancies impacting over a hundred assets, saving nearly 5 million dollars in maintenance for the Air Force.

“Merkley is a prime example of a noncommissioned officer for his Airmen.” said U.S. Tech Sgt. Jacob Cargill, the Munitions Support Equipment Management production supervisor with the 36th MUNS. “While encouraging our Airmen to troubleshoot and lead teams, his guidance promotes the development of new, efficient processes. He fosters an environment of innovation, and in-turn inspires and motivates his subordinates.”

When a section-wide COVID-19 exposure hit his office, Merkley stepped up and
voluntarily placed his paternity leave on hold to fulfill a vacancy and became the acting section chief for the MSEM team. His work ethic and unit involvement set a good example for his peers and Airmen to emulate.

Not only does Merkley lead Airmen in his day-to-day duties, but his mentorship of local Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets ensure our next-generation of commissioned officers have a positive example of leadership to strive toward as well.

The term Linebacker is rooted deep within Team Andersen’s history. Operation Linebacker II took place on Dec. 18, 1972, and was the largest number of heavy bomber strikes launched by the U.S. Air Force since the end of World War II. During the operation, B-52s from Andersen flew round-the-clock bombing missions over North Vietnam to destroy major targets in Hanoi and Haiphong in an effort to bring the Democratic Republic of Vietnam back to negotiations.

The recipient will have the opportunity to sign a “Linebacker” football jersey that will be displayed in the Wing Headquarters building.

Good work, Airman Merkley!

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