Distinguished Graduate Returns to 117 ARW

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. --

Leaders are always taking initiative, that’s what makes them leaders. They strive to put their best effort forward on all tasks, even if it’s just routine paperwork. We often think of leaders as the seasoned veterans of the unit, or just simply the oldest person in the office. But the Air Force believes in something different, something they call the “Whole Airman” concept. It is the idea that any Airman can lead no matter their status. From the Command Chief to the Airman Basic just out of technical training, if called upon, all Airmen can lead.

One Airman who embodies this idea is Staff Sgt. Dean Chambers, a command and control specialist assigned to the command post of the 117th Air Refueling Wing.

A native of Morris, Alabama, Chambers recently graduated from technical training at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, after a decision to go back into the service with the Alabama Air National Guard. He previously served in the U.S. Navy working in electronic warfare aboard the U.S.S. Carl Vinson during Operation Enduring Freedom.

 During his instruction at Keesler Air Force Base, Chambers earned the title of distinguished graduate, the highest honor possible for any graduate of all technical training programs across the U.S. Air Force. Distinguished graduates must maintain academic excellence while also contributing in other ways to the Air Force.

Chambers also proposed and worked on a voluntary class project during his technical training, where he researched the history of the U.S. Military Telegraph Corps and the command and control career field.

“The telegraph, and the use of the telegraph, for military applications, was the first time you had synchronous communications between your higher headquarters in Washington and your units in the field,” said Chambers.

Yet, Chambers wasn’t content in just excelling in the classroom. Instead, he took that initiative outside of the classroom as well. While at Keesler AFB, Chambers volunteered at the Beauvoir, a southern heritage museum located in Biloxi, Mississippi, which is also a designated National Historical Landmark.

 Chambers views history and the preservation of history as important to mission readiness. It is important to learn history’s hard lessons so we don’t forget because, when we forget, we make mistakes, he said.

As a student, leader, amateur historian, and Airman, Chambers fully embodies the “Whole Airman” concept. He is a fantastic example of the core values of integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do, exercised to their fullest effect.

Aim high, Airmen.

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