Senior Airman makes a difference

  • Published
  • By Brandice J. Armstrong
  • 72d Air Base Wing Public Affairs, Staff Writer
Capt. Kristen Thompson said Senior Airman Kevin Sanchez is an inspiration to his fellow troops. Even deployed to Iraq, he still motivates others. 

Airman Sanchez is an airborne radar technician with the 964th Airborne Air Control Squadron, deployed with the 964th Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron since March. 

"Senior Airman Sanchez has quite a compelling story," said Captain Thompson, 964th EAACS AWACS Aircraft commander. "I was in awe when he told me about his family and how they dreamed of life in the United States and how living [here] would enable them to provide for their family." 

Airman Sanchez's family immigrated to Queens, N.Y., from Bolivia. The family relocated to neighboring borough, Long Island, where Airman Sanchez attended high school. Following the events of one momentous day in September 2001, Airman Sanchez said he decided upon a career. 

"I joined directly because of my experience post-Sept. 11," Airman Sanchez said. "I knew the Air Force was a good fit for me and I wanted to do something that would make my family proud." 

On the day of the terrorist attacks, Airman Sanchez said he saw the second of two airplanes strike the World Trade Center. Then, he rounded up his peers and did his best to keep them calm as they sat restricted to their classroom for the next 10 hours. 

"The leadership skills he learned that fateful day set the foundation for a career where he affected people whose lives would ultimately be at risk," Captain Thompson said. "Not only did he demonstrate the qualities of a leader back in high school, but he demonstrates them on a daily basis for me as a member of my AWACS crew." 

In 2003, the 18-year-old enlisted in the Air Force and was assigned to Tinker. Airman Sanchez trained to be an ART, ensuring AWACS provide the best radar picture available. Deployed, he performs a similar job, ultimately ensuring the E-3 Sentry is able to do its job overseas. 

"He has been an outstanding asset on our team and because he is one of my crewmembers, I know him well and value his professionalism, dedication, and hard work," the captain said. "Through his deployments and his training, he has gained strength, honor, valor and courage in the everyday tasks he performs, but he consistently reaffirms these traits and proves his dedication in combat." 

Even though he's deployed, Airman Sanchez said he plans to re-enlist in July. 

"I work hard to be the very best Airman that I can be, but I owe a lot of to my crew members, teammates, and to my home and Air Force families that have helped me to be a proud Airman," he said. "The Air Force is a great institution and I am grateful for everything it has done for my life."