Cameron S. Hunt | 21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Master Sgt. Christopher Engelke, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Fire Emergency Services Flight superintendent, is the 2018 Geico Military Service Award winner. The award is selected amongst candidates from all U.S. military enlisted branches to include National Guard and Reserve units, and recognizes military excellence in enlisted service members.
The Air Force selects one of four top performers to compete against the other uniformed services on a national level. The entire selection process takes at least five months against the military’s best of the best.
“I was happy to have been nominated for the award but wasn’t too concerned about it since I recognize that there is still room for improvement in myself and my organization,” said Engelke.
Engelke was nominated for the award for his work both on and off-duty. One noteworthy incident included his actions as a first responder to a severe four-car collision. Taking control of the scene, he led six different response teams, and rendered first aid to a pregnant mother and injured drivers.
The finalist for the Geico award received an all-expense paid trip with their dependents to Washington, D.C., where the winner was announced. Engelke and his family attended tours at the Marine Corp War Memorial, laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and met with the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force.
“I got to meet each of the services senior enlisted leaders, which was an honor and a privilege,” said Engelke. “But the highlight of the trip, was being able to participate in the laying of the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Truly an awesome experience.”
Coming from humble beginnings, Engelke, is a first generation German immigrant. His father, Hans Joachim Hermann Engelke, was an exchange student majoring in agricultural studies in Basin City, Washington. Hans enlisted in the German Air Force, after completing his foreign exchange program. He was later assigned to a German detachment back in El Paso, Texas where he met his wife, an American citizen.
His upbringing on a farm in Washington helped to forge who he is today. “I guess since I grew up on a farm and learning the ethics of hard work and the values of selfless service really doesn’t translate to personal recognition,” said Engelke.
His advice for new junior non-commissioned officers: “You don’t have to be so hard with your troops when counseling them; you can inadvertently break your Airmen. They’re very much like crops, if you give them what they need, they’ll grow, but each person requires different elements for their own personal growth to succeed.”