Command post Airman wins awards

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Alexandria Mosness
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
It's not every day a command post Airman wins the Elizabeth Jacobson Award, a security forces award that recognizes Airmen for their deployment accomplishments.

Senior Airman Melissa Bradley, 81st Training Wing command post senior emergency actions controller, did just that when she was awarded the Air Education and Training Command Elizabeth Jacobson Award, named after the Air Force's first female Airman and first security forces Airman to die in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Bradley was also recognized as the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Airman of the Year.
Bradley's unique awards for a command post Airman come because she recently cross-trained from the security forces to the command post career field.

The Duluth, Minn., native always had an itch to join the military, but was her second year of college before she made the leap.

"I was a sophomore in college and wanted to do something more with my life and I really wanted to travel," she said. "My childhood friend and I always talked about joining the military ever since we were young and she chose to have a family, so I did it for both of us."

Though she cross-trained, Bradley said she always wanted to be a defender.
Being a security forces Airman led to her first deployment to Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan, with the 438th AEW.

"I was part of a 26-person 'Guardian Angel' team that protected more than 600 NATO and Air Force air advisors who were advising the Afghan Air Force in Kabul," she said. "I operated the base defense operations center."

Bradley just followed orders and worked at the BDOC, but little did she know this would change her career path.

"While at her deployed location, there was no command post," said Master Sgt. Joseph Brady, 81st TRW command post superintendent. "She operated the BDOC, which also functioned as the command post, her potential was noticed by the AETC's 1C3 functional manager (also deployed there), and she was convinced to cross-train. After returning from deployment, she worked one day as a security forces member, went on rest and relaxation, went to tech school, and began working here."

The hard work Bradley puts in doesn't go unnoticed by her leadership.

"It is a pleasure working with her," added Brady. "She seeks out answers to problems, tells you about them and then tells you what she thinks the answers are. She has an extremely strong work ethic. She is always here looking for things to do. She is involved. She has had a short time here and is already a wing staff agency booster club member."
She looks up to her mother, to whom she attributes her strong work ethic.

"My mom is the hardest working woman I know," the senior airman said. "And no matter what, she has always encouraged and supported me even when I do stuff like join the military and call her up super excited after I already signed all the papers."

The hard work paid off when she was notified of her awards, but Bradley was still shocked.

"I was surprised and humbled and appreciative that leadership both from Keesler and Kabul took the time to recognize me," she added.

Her leadership also recognized the significance of her award.

"I was like 'Wow, I am working with a hero!'" Brady said. "I was truly honored, happy and proud of her. The command post team is anxious to see if she the Jacobson Award at Air Force level."

Though Bradley is still new in her career as an Airman, she wants to stay the full 20 years.

"My plans are to retire from the military and my goal is to become a chief," she said.
And those around her believe she will do just that.

"I have already told her if she keeps this momentum going, nothing will stop her in her Air Force career," Brady added.