By Scott Prater
Senior Airman David Wood, 4th Space Operations Squadron, was sitting at home in Ohio nearly three years ago, contemplating his future. At age 25 and the son of an Army veteran, he thought at the time that this instance would likely be his last chance to serve his country if he was ever going to do it.
The next day he made the trip to a local Air Force recruiter, and a short time later took the oath of enlistment.
“I studied hard for the [Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery] and scored well, so I had a lot of options when choosing a career field,” he said. “As soon as I saw “space” it became my top choice and I was happy to learn I was selected for it.”
He says that fateful decision has proven to be one of the wisest of his young life.
This month, after earning the honor of Instructor of the Year for both 4 SOPS and the 50th Operations Group, Airman Wood sat down at his workstation, logged onto his computer and read an email stating he had won Air Force Space Command’s Instructor/Evaluator of the Year, Enlisted Category 1 for 2010.
“I’ve always been confident in my abilities and I take pride in holding a strong work ethic, but earning this award came as a total shock,” he said. “I was surprised to even have won at the group level, so I feel fortunate to have won for AFSPC. I think it will help my career aspirations and I’m thankful for that.”
According to Capt. William Klumpp, 4 SOPS chief, mobile operations, Airman Wood’s award was no fluke.
“Normally, our instructors are either lieutenants or more senior Airmen like staff sergeants, but he proved to us that he had the ability, knowledge and system expertise to be an instructor,” Captain Klumpp said. “He really is a subject-matter expert for the Advanced Extremely High Frequency Satellite system, so much so that he was hand selected by the squadron commander to be a mobile AEHF operator.”
Airman Wood’s award nomination package reads like an endless list of gold-star achievements. Not only has he been an exemplary operator and trainer, he’s devised solutions for problems, revised instruction schedules and orchestrated emergency responses.
“When you look at his nomination package a lot of accomplishments stand out,” Captain Klumpp said. “When we brought a combat communications squadron in for training it presented us with an unusual environment, but Airman Wood not only instructed on the system itself, he covered security and convoy operations. Those things are very unusual for a three-striper, but he performed well. We weren’t able to list all of his accomplishments because of the limited format of the form.”
Capt. Justin Sorice, 4 SOPS operations flight commander, notes that the Airman brings a fresh, enthusiastic approach to the teaching process.
“He’s able to adjust his teaching style to the individual student and makes sure they can not only capture information, but apply it,” he said.
When 4 SOPS and the 50th Operations Support Squadron needed help reducing a backlog of trainees, they called on Airman Wood.
“We brought a new command and control system online last May, the Advanced Satellite Mission Control Subsystem, and he helped eliminate the backlog of some 40 to 50 operators,” Captain Sorice said. “He also trains Airmen during their monthly reccurring training and is involved with training personnel for 4 SOPS’ mobile operations.”
During the next few years he plans to seek a commission, but understands that military budget cuts could play a role in delaying that process.
“I’ll hit my three-year mark this coming October, so I don’t know what’s going to happen in the immediate future, but I want to get a commission and until then I’ll continue to work hard. I’m fortunate to have the aptitude and understanding of the system to allow for success. Space is such an interesting career field — and it’s been fun to learn.”