by David McCallister
You don’t know Nestor Ventura, but he has my highest admiration. When I was in the Air Force I was assigned to supervise a crew of 13 people in a computer maintenance shop with about 40 workers. This shop had always been a mess. True, there were over 12 different mainframe computer systems to maintain, but the real problems were lack of training and short tour lengths.
At any time we had over 30 computer problems that needed to be looked at, a disgrace in the maintenance world. The troops really didn’t know the computer systems but the shop supervisor always wanted the situation fixed immediately.
After being in the crew supervisor position for only five months, I was fired because they didn’t see quick progress. This happened in spite of my ideas to improve our operations and my constant pleas to drastically change how we did business.
I was put in a demeaning position (for a Technical Sergeant) as the person to order all supplies. That position also killed my chances for future promotions. I felt I was a loser. Was this all I would do in the next nine years until I retired? I was so depressed that on several occasions I considered suicide.
Then Nestor Ventura, a Master Sergeant born in the Philippines, arrived and took over the shop. He was shocked that I was in the supply position and asked, “Dave, you’ve been here longer than the others. What needs to be done with this shop?”
I told him my ideas on revising training and job duties. He immediately moved me back into the supervisory position, and instituted the changes that I (and my coworker Ken Frankovich) had advocated.
It took almost a year, but after that time the shop turned around 180 degrees. There wasn’t a job backlog, people were so bored they would compete to see who would get the privilege of working on a job, and morale was great. The shop went from being the worst in the unit to the best.
Most important to me was my new attitude about myself. I wasn’t a loser as I and my previous supervisors had thought. I was a winner who would get great results if my input was considered and acted on.
Nestor, wherever you are, you don’t know it, but you made one heck of an impact on my life. I am forever grateful to you, you restored my dignity and saved my life.