KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
As a young, enlisted Airman in training in the 81st Training Group, Chaplain (Capt.) Lavonia Winford, 81st TRG chaplain, served as a white rope in 2005, working as an advocate for both the chaplains and technical training students. Today, Winford embraces an environment of encouragement for her Airmen as the lead Chaplain.
“My experience as an Airman on Keesler allows me to truly understand the students,” said Winford. “I am able to connect with the Airmen around me and learn from the chaplains who were my leaders. The support and encouragement the chaplains stand for inspired me to follow their steps and lead the Airmen I have now.”
Winford now serves as the lead for the Fishbowl, a comfortable environment in the training group for all students to improve their lives in and out of uniform.
“The Fishbowl is a safe community for the students to interact and relax,” said Winford. “My job is to equip our students with everything they need to accomplish their mission.”
The Fishbowl holds events such as gaming tournaments, karaoke and holiday parties for over 10,000 service members every month.
Staff Sgt. Chase Whittier, 81st Training Wing NCO in charge of religious affairs, admires Winford’s leadership and ability to enhance the mission from the lowest level up.
“Winford is a go-getter,” Whittier. “She not only helps our Airmen, but provides our Air Force with the best Airmen possible by meeting their mental, physical and spiritual needs.”
Winford continues her journey by supporting the service members around her and setting an example for the future through her role as a chaplain in 81st TRG.
“Our ultimate goal is to provide a loving atmosphere,” said Winford. “As a family, we treat everyone with respect. With that, the Airmen have created their own home away from home. We hope to inspire other bases to do the same thing to impact Airmen across the Air Force.”