Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Schriever Sentinel

AF selects most junior SMSgt

By Staff Sgt. Daniel Martinez

50th Space Wing Public Affairs

Master Sgt. Amber Mitchell went to work March 4 like any other day and anxiously anticipated the promotion results for senior master sergeant. As the work day came to a close, she was disappointed to tears believing she didn’t make the cut — that was until members of her squadron showed up at her doorstep later that evening with good news.

“We were getting ready to go to bed, my husband jumped in the shower and that’s when the roof sounded like it was coming off the house because my commander was banging on the door so loud,” she said.

Her husband, adorned in a bath towel, greeted Lt. Col. Lorenzo Bradley, 1st Space Operations Squadron commander, along with approximately 20 other members of her unit. Each member stood by to congratulate one of four of Schriever’s newest senior master sergeant selects. Remarkably, with only twelve years in, her selection for promotion makes her the most junior Airman throughout the Air Force to achieve a line number for E-8 during this promotion cycle.

“When I’m reading the study material, I always try to relate it to my career, some of the things that I’ve learned and some of the things I’ve seen,” she said. “When it comes to the Air Force and what I do, I take it very seriously and I always want to show everyone else who I work with that if I can do it, you can do it and if you work hard you’ll get rewarded.”

Sergeant Mitchell began basic training in 1997 and afterward went on to Space Systems Operations technical school at Vandenberg AFB, Calif. Her first duty assignment was at Patrick AFB, Fla. as an aerospace control officer for the 45th Range Squadron. Her determination to be successful was initially driven by her superintendent who she said was less than enthusiastic to have young, inexperienced Airmen in the squadron.

“It prodded me to go above and beyond because I wanted to show him ‘Hey, it is important that we’re here and just because I’m a young Airman doesn’t mean I can’t do my job well and do it better than everyone else,’” she said.

Sergeant Mitchell overcame those obstacles and used those early career challenges as a springboard for future successes. She’s managed to pin on a stripe almost every time she’s tested, with the exception of technical sergeant which she landed her second time testing. She’s gone to college to work toward her degree and dedicated herself to various volunteer opportunities such as the 5/6 council and the Air Force Sergeant’s Association. She was even chosen as one of 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year in 2005.

She said she attributes much of her success to her husband for helping her maximize her study time and being her support system. She also found inspiration in an acquaintance, retired Chief Master Sgt. Steve Parrish, who became her mentor.

“He showed us the importance of getting involved and networking,” Sergeant Mitchell said. “He showed us it was important to look outside (our career field) and see other people and see other jobs … and he showed us the value of good work ethics.”

Colonel Bradley, who’s worked with Sergeant Mitchell since July 2009, said he heard about her before taking command of 1st SOPS.

“I was told by people that had served with her how lucky I was to have her in the squadron,” Colonel Bradley said. “Everything I was told was true — she is, undoubtedly, one of the most outstanding people I have had the pleasure of working with in my Air Force career. If promotion is about trust and confidence to serve in the higher grade, then Amber’s performance thus far is proof enough she deserves this, and her time in service has nothing to do with it.”

Sergeant Mitchell said Airmen should always seize an opportunity to improve themselves. She also said her formula for success comes from three things: being involved with family, career and the community.

She added, “You’ll open up opportunities whether it’s to learn or meet new people, so be involved.”

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