Voices of the VaANG: Master Sgt. Justin Self

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Lucretia Cunningham
  • 192nd Wing

“My father was in 192nd weapons loading. He retired back when I was a teenager, but he’s what inspired me to join the guard in 2002. Out here, where we live in Warsaw, you wouldn’t know about the Air Guard. I kind of grew up emulating my dad. He was a lineman for the local electric co-op, and then he would go to drill on the weekends.

Back then, things were really relaxed and he would actually bring me to drill with him. While he was loading weapons on planes, I was playing basketball in their parking lot. I would go on the flightline with him and sat in an F-16 as a nine or 10-year-old.

It was things like that, but I also noticed the camaraderie, the friendships he built. All these people from different areas come together on one weekend to do work and then be able to hang out at the end of the day to talk, joke and laugh. It really was just about being a part of something that was all inclusive.

I care about the unit a lot. I want the unit to thrive even when I’m gone. My job is to give my troops the knowledge and the power to do everything they need to do to be successful themselves. Everything I do, I do it for my Airmen...whether they realize it or not.

I tried to join when I was 18 but I was overweight. I ended up waiting until I was about 21, I dropped like 60 pounds. I’ve never been afraid of hard work. I’m not one to just sit back and do nothing. I knew Security Forces was hard, especially after coming up as an Airman through the ranks, but I was never afraid to do the hard work.

I had delivered medical equipment, I was a short order cook, and before that, I changed tires. I had done all this stuff where I could see instantaneous results. The biggest thing I struggled with being Security Forces was if nothing happens, that’s a good day; I struggled a lot with my sense of purpose as a Security Forces Airman.

Coming up, we only see a small part. We see ‘I’m out here, in a truck, watching a plane.’ You don’t see the fact you’re watching a plane, nobody is getting to it; that plane can now get up in the air, refuel, and accomplish the greater mission. The bigger picture; you actually had a hand accomplishing the bigger mission just because you were there and did your job. You ensured mission success!” — Master Sgt. Justin Self, 192nd Security Forces Squadron training noncommissioned officer in charge