Chance To Be Greater
by U.S. Air Force Darrius Parker, Materiel Command
Capt. Joshua Lee knew as a kid that he wanted to be part of the
“I always wanted to be in the military. My
dad was in the Coast Guard for 21 years, so I have always known the
military lifestyle. I knew I wanted to join, but I didn’t know which
branch to go into,” said Lee. “Part of me wanted to join the Coast
Guard to honor my dad, and the other part wanted to join the Air
Force because I saw how the Air Force takes care of its people.”
Lee, born in Massachusetts, spent his childhood in numerous
locations in the U.S. as part of a military family. His motivation
to join the military increased as he observed his father serving 21
years in the Coast Guard.
He settled on the Air Force, and
his first position was an environmental control system engineer for
the F-22 Raptor at Wright-Patterson AFB. Although he was accustomed
to moving around as a kid, Lee soon realized that moving was not as
easy as it seemed to be.
Starting fresh in different
communities was much harder as an adult as was keeping up with his
“Moving is very tough, but it also makes you
stronger and more resilient. As a kid, it was not a big deal because
you can always make new friends. When you are older, it becomes more
difficult,” said Lee. “However, the Air Force is small, and you have
friends everywhere. It is important to utilize those opportunities.
This has made me a more outgoing person.”
After two years at
Wright-Patterson, Lee’s next assignment took him to Eglin AFB to be
a weapon airframe flight team lead for the unmanned aircraft systems
(UAS). He has been at Eglin AFB for three years, and today he is the
deputy branch chief of weapon dynamic guidance navigation and
controls for small UAS at the Air Force Research Laboratory.
October 15, 2019 - Air Force Capt. Joshua Lee
(left) talks with Gen. Arnold Bunch, Air Force Materiel Command commander, about unmanned aerial systems at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The commander visited Air Force Research Lab Munitions Directorate’s newest networking test and design facility during an early stop on his two-day tour of the base. (U.S. Air Force photo
by Samuel King Jr.)
As well as making sure everyone is accomplishing their job as
efficiently as possible while they complete their research and
development, Lee arranges meetings with management to ensure network
weapons, navigation and guidance GPS, and guidance and control for
weapons are equipped to the fullest.
“The military makes you
appreciate certain things. I wake up each day appreciative of my job
and what I do. Ultimately, protecting this nation is the main goal,”
One of the advantages he appreciates is the
opportunity to further his education. Lee received his bachelor’s
degree in mechanical engineering from Clemson University, and his
master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the Air Force
Institute of Technology (AFIT).
In addition to education,
Lee appreciates the networking opportunities that helped him to
learn more and excel in ways he never thought possible. He believes
that he has discovered a purpose greater than himself through
“There are a lot of ways to excel, and the Air
Force turned me into something great I never thought was even
possible for myself. My dad was enlisted in the Coast Guard, and
here I am as an officer in the Air Force,” he said.
obtained his second chance to attend the annual Air, Space and Cyber
Conference this year where he showcased the munitions directorate at
the Air Force Research Laboratory booth. At the conference, said
Lee, it is easy to see how big the Air Force actually is and how
many people are involved in making missions possible. Because Lee
has worked in AFMC since 2013, the 2019 AFA Conference gave him a
greater perspective on the size of the Air Force and how AFMC plays
into that picture.
“People always say that the Air Force is
small, but seeing all the people and organizations at the conference
makes you think differently. I get to see people from my past, but I
also get to see the amount of work that is being done for the Air
Force. It is great because when I have conversations with others, I
get more of a scope on what different things are going on outside of
AFRL,” he said.
Lee’s future goal is to reach at least 20
years of service and retire in the Air Force. He plans to stay in as
long as he can, and go as far as he can go as an officer. The Air
Force is his passion, and it is his profession.
“I love what
I do every single day, and that allows me to wake up happy. I always
feel ecstatic to go to work every day, so I wouldn’t change a thing.
If someone loves what they are doing, then they never have to work a
day in their life,” he said.
Whether a person decides to be
active duty in the military to protect this nation by putting on the
uniform, or by working as a civilian to support the Air Force
mission by contributing innovation and an outside perspective, each
person in the Air Force has taken the opportunity to be part of
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