Navigating 'Controlled Chaos' Of Daily Duties
by U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Mason Hargrove
“It’s basically controlled chaos,” said
U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Laquetta Spann, 56th Operations
Support Squadron air traffic controller. “Each day is different; you
never know what you’re going to get.”
June 22, 2023 - U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt.
Laquetta Spann, 56th Operations Support Squadron air traffic
controller in her office at Luke Air Force Base Arizona.
Currently, Spann is the only black female chief master
sergeant in the U.S. Air Force’s ATC career field. (Image created by USA
Patriotism! from U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mason Hargrove.)
From humble beginnings in Montgomery,
Alabama, to becoming the only black female Chief Master Sgt. within
the U.S. Air Force’s ATC career field, Spann has always displayed an
unwavering determination to her work.
That being said, the
road to success wasn’t always easy.
did not have a lot of money growing up,” said Spann. “There were
times when basic necessities like electricity and gas were beyond
Despite the challenges Spann faced growing up in
a financially disadvantaged household, she always had one goal in
mind; obtaining a college degree.
Days after her high school
graduation, no schools had responded to Spann regarding
scholarships. She began considering other options to afford college.
At the time, Spann’s brother was enlisted in the U.S. Navy.
“Throughout my life my brother has always inspired me and
pushed me to do my best,” said Spann. “He played a pivotal role in
encouraging me to enlist in the Air Force to become an air traffic
After securing a position as an air traffic
controller, Spann faced many challenges within the career field.
“The job was very high-pressure and demanding from the start,”
Air traffic control tested her composure and
resilience, but she remained dedicated and stuck to her goal of
obtaining a degree.
Years later, Spann received orders to
Kadena Air Base, Japan, where she found a whole new aspect to her
career, the people.
“I had the opportunity to work with an
amazing team in Kadena,” said Spann. “The camaraderie and support I
experienced there truly changed my perspective.”
time at Kadena, Spann continued on her educational journey,
balancing her military responsibilities with her coursework.
Finally, after years of work, she achieved her hard-earned college
But even after obtaining her degree, she found that
she received even more than she asked for from the Air Force. The
genuine connections she formed with her fellow service members
solidified her commitment to the Air Force and influenced her desire
to continue to serve.
“I reenlisted and then reenlisted
again, because I was having so much fun,” said Spann. “Once I found
people I enjoyed working with, the fulfillment I felt doing air
traffic control was like nothing else.”
Inspired by the
support and camaraderie she experienced at Kadena, Spann aspired to
radiate that same level of care and compassion to others in and out
of the military.
Since becoming a chief master sergeant,
Spann has made it her mission to not only excel in her role as an
air traffic controller, but also to be someone who can inspire the
future of air traffic controllers.
“I realized the importance
of not only excelling in my role, but also being someone who
genuinely cared about the well-being of my Airmen,” said Spann
As she continues to navigate the “controlled chaos” of her daily
duties, Spann remains unwavering in her commitment to making a
positive impact on the lives of her fellow service members.
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