Story by Capt. Hans Zeiger on 08/02/2019Senior Airman Nelson Andersen is a member of the Washington Air National Guard's 242nd Combat Communications Squadron, based at Fairchild Air Force Base outside of Spokane, Washington. The squadron provides a variety of communications connections in support of overseas or domestic operations. Andersen serves in the unit's cyber transportation flight, handling routers, switches, and firewalls, and working with phone, internet, and non-classified internet protocol (NIPR) connections, "making sure traffic gets where it needs to," he said.
Service runs in Andersen's blood. His father, Neil, was a longtime member of the Washington ANG's 141st Air Refueling Wing at Fairchild. Born and raised in Spokane, Andersen joined the Air Guard right out of high school in 2016. Following basic military training, Andersen completed technical school at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. He got his start as a temporary technician with the 141st Communications Flight before transferring into the 242nd CCS.
On a recent drill weekend, Andersen performed work on a medium communications package, one capable of supporting communications for 100-150 people. As a member of a 7-8 person cyber transport team, Andersen said that the kind of work he does can vary depending on the complexity of the communications need. "Sometimes all we need to do is plug in the phones," he said. "But a lot of time we're working on troubleshooting or trying to match up return traffic."
Outside of the Air National Guard, Andersen works as an IT service provider for a Post Falls, Idaho-based IT contractor that does work for school districts. Andersen's hobbies include snowboarding, camping, fishing, yard work, and time with friends.