By Airman 1st Class Brooke Wise | Peterson-Schriever Garrison Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The U.S. Air Force has been upholding a tradition of camaraderie and discipline for 73 years. It was this sense of pride and purpose that inspired 1st Lt. Nathaniel Shannon, Space Delta 6 — Cyberspace Operations, 61st Cyberspace Squadron defensive cyber operations supervisor, to begin his Air Force career.
“I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, and honor those who served before me,” said Shannon. “I also wanted to gain a caliber of discipline that I felt only the military can provide.”
Shannon was one of the few students from his home town of Midland Park, New Jersey, to apply to a service academy, and the first of his immediate family to join the military. After successfully obtaining his degree in physics, he realized he wanted a little bit more.
Although he originally joined with the idea of becoming a pilot, Shannon discovered a new passion in cyberspace.
“I felt that joining the U.S. Space Force was the closest I would get to being at the forefront of space as a national security enterprise, even if it is from the cyber perspective,” continued Shannon.
Shannon now leads a crew of cyber defense operators who monitor and protect the mission and weapon systems that make the U.S. Space Force tick. Both he and his team are the first line of defense against malicious actors trying to infiltrate the Space Force in cyberspace.
“Ironically, when joining the Air Force I told myself, ‘I am going to be the opposite of my dad, who just sits at a desk in front of a computer all day’,” Shannon explained. “Now I do exactly that. My eyes have been opened to an entirely unknown part of the world to me previously — cyberspace and cyber warfare.”
Despite multiple setbacks, Shannon never missed an opportunity to make the most of his situation, and prides himself on his work ethic and determination.
“Lieutenant Shannon was my most highly stratified senior watch officer,” praised U.S. Space Force Capt. Joseph Folse, 61st CYS operations officer. “Even when presented with the toughest of challenges and time-constrained environments, Lieutenant Shannon is able to come up with unique solutions that meet the need of the U.S. Space Force, and most importantly, the Guardians he supervises.”
U.S. Space Force Maj. Eve O’Connor, 61st CYS director of operations, explained that Shannon is known as a skilled cyber operator, and is always looked to for input on their biggest technical and operational challenges.
“Lieutenant Shannon is a very thoughtful leader,” O’Connor described. “When interacting with him, you can tell that he is very observant, attentive and considerate. He is always the first to volunteer for any challenge, task or mission. He thinks strategically about what is needed not only from his leadership, but importantly, from his subordinates as well.”
Shannon went on to explain that although he was the first in his immediate family to join, he has hopes that his hard work and success will inspire the next generation.
“I am very proud to be a part of building an entirely new armed service,” explained Shannon. “I like to think that I am starting a legacy that my children will hopefully follow.”