CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nevada -- Is this the job for me? Did I pick the right career field? Those are questions many airmen ask themselves throughout their Air Force careers.
Air Force Tech Sgt. Noah Stamps, 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing command chief's executive assistant, has firsthand experience with that same situation.
Stamps said he was not always fond of his job. He first joined the Air Force in 2002 as a security forces airman at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota -- an assignment notorious for its challenging winter weather.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Noah Stamps, 432nd Wing/432nd air Expeditionary Wing command chief executive assistant, is coined for superior performance by Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Cody during his reenlistment ceremony at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, July 15, 2014. During his 13-year career, Stamps has served in four different Air Force specialties. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)
"It's Minot, and it gets down to negative 60 degrees in the winter, and as an SF member you would do a lot of outside work," Stamps said. "So when you're out in negative 60-degree weather, and you have to perform with excellence and integrity, those kinds of conditions can test your excellence, integrity and your dedication to service. So being expected to perform in that type of weather, there's nothing easy about that."
Although the climate at his first base was somewhat difficult to endure, Stamps said one of the pros about his first base was his phenomenal leadership who valued morale, promoting the idea of "comprehensive airmen fitness" before it was popularized throughout the service.
He credits having great leaders who valued taking care of their airmen for shaping his future outlook on how he would value his airmen and those around him.
"I'm a firm believer in that if you take care of airmen 100 percent of the time, they will take care of the mission 100 percent of the time with 100 percent of their effort," Stamps said. "If you are focused on the mission and forget about the people, both will suffer."
As he progressed through the ranks, he said the feeling of wanting to make a difference in the Air Force and take care of airmen every day steadily grew. It was at this point in his career, Stamps said, that he decided to apply for retraining.
"I wanted to retrain -- to help airmen in a different way," he said. "I had great mentors who helped with my decision to stay in the Air Force. They got me to realize what my gifts are, what my talents are and where they can be used."
In 2006, a career as a photojournalist seemed to suit Stamps' gifts, but a few months before leaving for technical training, the Air Force merged public affairs and visual information career fields, which reduced the number of airmen in the career field. Stamps said he was once again left wondering what to do next.
Finding His Place
"My next two choices to retrain were to be a firefighter or a chaplain's assistant," he recalls. "Being a new husband and dad left me feeling like a career as a firefighter wasn't for me, so I choose to be a chaplain's assistant. I loved the idea of helping people out in a different capacity."
It wasn't long before the need to discover different ways to make an impact on airmen and their careers pushed Stamps to apply to be an Airman Leadership School professional military education instructor. In September 2009, he joined the ALS team at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
"Teaching PME was a transforming experience for me," he recalls. "My impression of teaching prior to stepping into the classroom was that I would be the one imparting my vast knowledge on a generation of new staff sergeants. The reality is that they had a lot to teach me. I learned more from my students than they did from me."
Stamps said plenty of people tried to discourage him from being an instructor, but he continued to apply for the special duty position until he was eventually picked for the job. He said it taught him a lesson he likes to pass along.
"Always pursue your passion," he said. "There are so many people who join the Air Force and are given an Air Force Specialty Code, given a job. A lot of people grow into loving their job. Some people don't, and if you don't grow into loving what the Air Force has given you, then you needed find something that is going to help you pursue your passion."
Experience Into Wisdom
Stamps said stepping out of his comfort zone proved beneficial to his career development into a noncommissioned officer.
His 13-year career now includes multiple special duty assignments, two AFSC's, three deployments, graduating 22 ALS PME classes and holding a total of four jobs. He said that experience has prepped him to give advice to help other airmen who may be wondering what the Air Force has in store for them as well.
"Sergeant Stamps is full of immense knowledge and has been a key mentor of mine for about a year now," said Air Force Senior Airman Andrew Ingersoll, 432nd WG/432nd AEW executive administration specialist. "His leadership and mentorship have guided me in the right direction, not only with career decisions but also in life decisions."
Impacting the airmen beneath him isn't the only task that Stamps is focused on.
"It is easy to see how Sergeant Stamps' diverse career and breadth of experience has made him such a resilient leader," said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Michael Ditore, the wing's command chief master sergeant. "It is an awesome sight to watch him engage with airmen of all ranks as he provides mentoring, counseling, and many other wingman fundamentals. Noah is an NCO who leads by example and exemplifies our core values of integrity, service, and excellence."
By U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Adarius Petty
DOD News / Defense Media Activity
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