PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Peterson Air Force Base has been the launch pad for many young Airmen’s successful careers. Senior Airman Siara Pinick, 21st Aerospace Medicine Squadron aerospace operational physiology technician, is the latest to truly embody the 21st Space Wing motto “strength and preparedness.”
In Pinick’s short career, she has represented the 21st SW at the Air Force level and received the 2018 Aerospace and Operational Physiology Airman of the Year award. She has also been the recipient of multiple other awards to include wing-level quarterly awards and also earned Senior Airman Below-the-Zone.
On a daily basis, Pinick’s job prepares Airmen for the most extreme circumstances at altitude before they ever set foot on an aircraft. She is responsible for teaching aviators and parachutists essential skills they need to handle emergencies at high altitudes.
Pinick joined the Air Force at 22 years old after graduating college in Phoenix. The psychology major decided that something about civilian life was not for her. She wanted to challenge herself.
“I was honestly bored as a civilian,” said Pinick jokingly. “I said to myself, ‘You know what? I’m going to try,’ because I didn’t want to be that old person who’s like ‘Oh yeah, I thought about joining the military.’ I wanted to be able to say I did it, or at least give it my best try.”
After she joined and graduated technical school, Pinick sought a mentor.
“I was looking for guidance from someone who was able to steer my strong personality to where I want to be,” said Pinick.
Pinick attributes her success to the 21st AMDS aerospace and operational physiology flight chief, Master Sgt. Dawn Mathes.
“My flight chief has helped me and my career so much,” said Pinick. “She’s challenged me and she’s pushed me into leadership opportunities that I didn’t think I was ready for. She believed in me before I even knew enough about the military to believe in myself.”
Whether it is because of her flight chief pushing her or because of her own ambition, Pinick has continuously exceeded the expectations and the responsibilities of a Senior Airman.
“She has demonstrated the capability and desire to go beyond the responsibilities of her pay grade and continually raises the bar for herself and her peers,” said Mathes.
As an Airman 1st Class, Pinick taught the physiology aspects of initial flight training in Pueblo, Colorado for incoming pilots and jumpers at the United States Air Force Academy. She also wrote multiple physiology articles, some distributed Air Force wide. Meanwhile, she continued her education and earned her master’s degree in psychology and human factors, and a Community College of the Air Force associate degree.
“She definitely exemplifies the ‘whole Airman’ concept and is motivated to mastering her craft like no other Airman I have met in my 18 years of service,” said Mathes.
Pinick claims that her job and the people around her have been the key motivators in her career.
“Not everyone gets to do this. I’m so grateful to be in an environment where people push me to be at my best in and out of the Air Force,” said Pinick.
While Pinick’s hard work has been recognized, her work is not over. She hopes to commission through the commissioned officer training program, continuing to develop her skills.
For any Airman who has similar aspirations, Pinick has very simple advice.
“Work hard, be respectful, say thank you,” said Pinick. “You aren’t going to get anywhere by merit alone.”