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380AEW Article

Air Force Fuels Airman's Dreams

  • Published
  • By MSgt. Dan Heaton
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing

Senior Airman Shealtiel Henson dreams big. And, she says, the Air Force has been a big part of helping her move closer to realizing those dreams.

Born in the Philippines, Henson started working in her poor community when she was just eight years old, when her father died and the family struggled to get by. Eventually, her mother would remain an American man and Henson decided to come to the U.S. – to Wyoming and more than a little culture shock and a rude awaking to the concept of “winter” – and follow those dreams.

While still in high school she became a U.S. citizen and then, following some advice from her stepfather, who she calls her “best mentor,” she decided to join the Air Force. She was assigned to Beale Air Force Base, California, as a commander’s support staff specialist prior to deploying to Al Dhafra in the United Arab Emirates for six months.

“I worked for the Intel section at Beale, so we were pretty isolated in our day-to-day job,” she said. “I came over here and my first assignment was in the Post Office. There, you meet a lot of people. You’re interacting with different Airmen every day.”

After a couple of months in the Post Office, she was re-assigned and worked as a CSS for the Force Support Squadron. Also, on deployment, she was promoted to her current rank, took three college classes and served as the vice president of the First Four Club, promoting activities for junior Airmen.

“It went by fast,” she said.

Henson said the Air Force is supporting her education, which is a key step in her eventual goal to become a nurse.

“(In the Philippines,) the people are nice and I love the culture, but the economic options, they just aren’t there. In the U.S., the opportunities are there for people who want to work for it,” she said. “I just dreamed bigger and chased better things. The Air Force is helping me get to my dream. With the Air Force, you never know what you are going to learn next.”

Henson is just one of the many faces of diversity that strengthen not only the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing at ADAB, but the Air Force as a whole.

“She is doing great things with the First Four Council and with her squadron,” said Tech. Sgt. Luis Silva, a command post controller with the 380th AEW who helps organize cultural heritage activities at ADAB.

Silva said the Cultural Heritage Committee is always on the look-out for sharp Airmen from diverse background to spotlight, to help educate Wing Airmen on the strength that comes from the Wing’s diversity.

“I’ve enjoyed my experience at Al Dhafra. And now it is time to see what opportunity the Air Force wants to present me with next,” Henson said.