Military News

Monday, May 11, 2015

Face of Defense: Enlisted Airman Seeks New Challenges as Officer

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Emily Kenney
Holloman Air Force Base

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M., May 11, 2015 – Air Force Tech. Sgt. Shawn Avery, currently deployed to Afghanistan from Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, received some greatly anticipated news May 1: He was selected for Officer Training School.

Avery, a security forces member working on Bagram Airfield, grew up in Alabama where he learned the importance of hard work, commitment and self-improvement.

"Failure was not an option," Avery said. "My mother taught me that. As a single parent with four children we were raised with a good work ethic. She worked two, sometimes three jobs, to make sure we had what we needed. I saw that, and learned just by watching her. Slacking was not an option."

Throughout his career, Avery was honored as an elite gate guard at Barksdale Air Force base in Louisiana and later became a military training instructor at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

"Being an MTI really built me as an NCO," Avery said. "I got my blue rope, signifying I was in the top 10 percent of MTIs, and I earned two degrees from the Community College of the Air Force, but the way I was raised, that wasn't enough. I went on to earn my Air Education and Training Command master instructor certification, making me in the top two percent of instructors at the time."

Exceeding Expectations

Avery has worked to exceed expectations during his 14 years in the Air Force.

"Sergeant Avery is a very successful noncommissioned officer who has spent time not only as a defender but also in the basic training environment molding trainees into airmen," said Air Force Lt. Col. Tony Castillo, 49th Security Forces Squadron commander. "His experience leading in the enlisted corps will indeed make him a potent officer in whatever career field he serves in."

Although Avery has accomplished a great deal in his military career thus far, he recognized the importance of education outside the military.

Recognizing Importance of Education

"I looked at my career and thought, 'I've been in the military for as long as I have and I have nothing to show for it,'" Avery said. "At that point, I really started to push my career and push my education."

After obtaining his bachelor's degree in criminal justice, Avery decided to take it a step further.

"I've enjoyed my career and I'm going to be in the force until they kick me out, but I would regret not getting involved in every corner of the Air Force that I could, so the next step was becoming an officer," Avery said.

After years of hard work and months of anticipation, Avery received the news he was waiting for. He was accepted for OTS.

"School was nowhere in my future, but I did it," Avery said. "Now that I've traveled the path myself, I want to guide people on it. I was raised not to exceed and step on people, but to exceed and bring people with me. That's what I will always strive to do."

Castillo said they will miss Avery at the 49th SFS, but he “can't wait to see the amazing things Sergeant Avery is going to do for our Air Force as a commissioned officer. I am so proud of this warrior and gentleman.”

(Editor’s note: Staff Sgt. Whitney Amstutz, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs, contributed to this article.)

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