By Staff Sgt. Robert Cloys
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Senior Airman Gordon Burton from the 50th Contracting Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base was named Outstanding Junior Enlisted Member of the Year during the Armed Forces Week Luncheon Friday.
The Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance and Business Alliance Military Affairs Council hosted the ceremony
Leaders at each of the Colorado Springs area military installations nominated 15 finalists to be recognized in junior enlisted, NCO and senior NCO categories.
“It is quite an honor to see a 50th Space Wing member win such a prestigious multi-service award,” said Col. James Ross, 50 SW commander. “Not only is this a tremendous achievement for SrA Burton, but evidence of the type of quality members we have on our team.”
Burton, one of three Airmen and two Army junior enlisted members in his category, earned the recognition as best in his category based on military awards, educational and military accomplishments and community involvement.
Burton completed his Community College of the Air Force degree shortly after arriving at Schriever, and has nearly completed his bachelor’s degree and his master’s degree is on the horizon.
In addition, Burton is involved in the community. Regularly volunteering to be part of Airmen Against Drunk Driving, Muscular Dystrophy Association events, Airman’s Council and at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, leaves many wondering when he ever has any free time. But for Burton, volunteering is one of his favorite things.
“Honestly, it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “My wife does a lot of the volunteer stuff with me. We get to spend a lot of time together doing stuff we wouldn’t normally get to do.”
The key to volunteer work, according to Burton, is enjoying what you do.
“If you don’t care for animals and wildlife, I wouldn’t recommend volunteering at a zoo,” he said. “But, if you have a passion for kids, there are many different ways you can help kids in the area. Several elementary schools right here in the area need volunteers all the time.”
Despite his hard work, Burton says he feels incredibly humbled by his recent award.
“Sometimes, you almost feel underserving because there are people out there who are in combat and doing dangerous jobs,” he said. “From the outside looking in, my job is sitting at a desk, not getting fired every day, but there are those who are risking their life every day.”
Even though Burton says there are many military members who deserve to get similar recognition, he attributes much of his own success to supportive members of his squadron.
“It’s nice to see hard work pays off. It encourages me to keep going,” said Burton. “I feel like sometimes people get burnt out on the military and volunteering and all that kind of stuff. It’s hard to juggle school, work and volunteering, but it can be done.”
In the future, Burton plans to shift his focus to bringing more Airmen with him to volunteer.
“I’d like to build up the newer Airmen who may not be in their full stride yet and help them find volunteer opportunities they’re interested in as well as encourage them to be active in school as well,” he said.
Shifting his energy to helping his peers has its own rewards as well.
“It’s kind of nice to be almost an example to them as well because it shows that your hard work can pay off,” he said. “That volunteering is more than just an [enlisted performance report] bullet and you can actually have a lot of fun doing it.”
Mirroring the words of Gen. William Shelton, Air Force Space Command commander and guest speaker at the luncheon, Burton said having a supportive community is what makes all the difference.
“In the past, military members haven’t had quite the support we have now,” he said. “It’s incredibly valuable, and I think we’re incredibly lucky to be here.”