A dream to commission comes to fruition

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alan Ricker
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. – Prepared and equipped to discuss Traffic Movement Office issues, Tech. Sgt. Nathan Zachary, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron cargo movement noncommissioned officer in charge, entered the wing conference room on Nov. 17, 2020, waiting to address the wing commander’s concerns.

Zachary was asked to sit and explain how McConnell can ensure easier permanent change of station for individuals in the Exceptional Family Member Program.

“I was not expecting that,” said Zachary. “I was expecting a cargo question.”

After Zachary suggested a questionnaire or receiving feedback from EFMP families, Col. Richard Tanner, 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander, shared that he had a surprise guest waiting to hear the NCOIC’s explanation.

“I was completely blown away when I saw Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Bass,” exclaimed Zachary as he recalled almost falling out of his chair. “I was not expecting to see her.”

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass appeared on a large screen in the conference room inquiring about the EFMP. Shortly after his answer, she mentioned that she had some pressing news, congratulating the NCO.

Zachary was handpicked by her to commission as part of the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program-A, which enables senior leaders to directly select enlisted members who are talented and exhibit exceptional performance to commission as an Air Force officer. The program will also allow him to complete his degree while on active duty status and commission as a 2nd Lieutenant after graduating Officer Training School.

"It took a lot of work to get here, and a lot of people had to help me along the way to get here as well,” said Zachary.

He mentioned several co-workers, mentors and leaders from McConnell and previous bases that placed him in situations to develop and improve his leadership and followership skills.

“Tech. Sgt. Zachary was selected because he consistently demonstrated a track record of superior performance throughout his nine year enlisted career,” said 1st Lt. Dominique Jamieson, 22nd LRS deployment and distribution flight commander. “His high level performance produced mission results and opened opportunities for him to be recognized.”

According to Jamieson, Zachary drove the cargo movement element to receive Air Mobility Command’s number one on-time delivery rate for transportation priority-one aircraft. He also described the NCO’s leadership capabilities, which enabled his team to achieve a Senior Airman Below-the-Zone win and to receive, for the first time in four years, the 2020 McConnell AFB 22nd Mission Support Group Team of the 2nd Quarter Award.

Shortly after sharing the news of his selection to commission, Zachary received an email compelling him to quickly call the sender. He grinned as the author of the email shared his new Air Force position: he is going to be a pilot — something he’s wanted to do before he ever joined the Air Force.

“It was just the culmination of nine and a half years of work, experiences and dreams all coming together at that moment,” Zachary explained. “It was one hundred percent the best experience of my career thus far.”