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Navigating 'Controlled Chaos' Of Daily Duties
by U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Mason Hargrove
July 17, 2023

“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.)
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.

“We did not have a lot of money growing up,” said Spann. “There were times when basic necessities like electricity and gas were beyond our means.”

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 controller.”

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,” said Spann.

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.”

During her 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 degree.

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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