July 2016 Spotlight Airman

  • Published
  • By 175th Wing Public Affairs

Name: Robert Wierzbicki
Rank: A1C
Unit: 175 MXS
Job Description: Sheet Metal Mechanic
Fulltime job: Sheet Metal Mechanic
Hometown: Perry Hall, Maryland
Joined the MDANG:  2013
Total Service years: 3
Family: I'm the oldest of three brothers. My parents have been together for 23 years as of February. My mother served in the Air National Guard for seven years and continued her service to the public by becoming the Deputy Director at Free State Challenge Academy. My father has been an overseas foreign claims manager at the Social Security Administration for 18 years.
Favorite Movie: Star Wars Return of the Jedi
Last book read: The Martian
Favorite food: Penne Rosa with grilled chicken
Favorite Sports Team: Washington Capitals

Tell us your brief life story?

I was born in Baltimore on September 11th, little did I know that my birth day would become such an important date in American history. I was in first grade reading class when the first plane hit. We were sent home early that day and I can vividly remember seeing all of my presents in the dining room while my family was in the living room watching the news on Fox. I wasn't quite old enough to understand what happened, but it became clear to me as I got older that I had to join the military like my mother before me. The attacks of 9/11 shaped me into the man I am today. In high school, I gave patriotic speeches, created a military history class with my department head, and campaigned with veterans to sell poppy flowers every Veterans Day.

Since the summer of 2006, I have volunteered at White Marsh Child Care (WMCC) III in Perry Hall, MD and in 2012 they offered me a part time counselor job for school aged children. Aside from working summers at WMCC, I also volunteered at the Free State Challenge Academy in Aberdeen, helping at risk youth get their lives back on track.

Tell us about your military career?

During my senior year of high school I met with recruiters from all branches of service. It didn't take me long to realize that the Guard was for me. It was perfect; I could wear a uniform, perform a technical job every day, and remain at home close to my family while continuing my education all at the same time. Unfortunately, while I was at military entrance processing they told me I was color blind, and although I had an above average score on my Armed Services Vocational Aptitude test, my list of jobs was cut to only three choices: services, sheet metal, and machine shop. I knew that I wanted to work on the A-10, so I chose sheet metal over the other two because we mostly work on the jet.

On May 15, 2013, I swore in with the 175th Maintenance Squadron. The following month, I attended my first Student Flight Drill and I loved every bit of my first day. After nine drills, I left for basic and went straight through to tech school. In basic training I was day room chief and my flight received Warrior Flight Honors. My Military Training Leaders in technical school selected me to become an airman leader and soon I found myself in charge of the airman of night shift. Those four months of tech school taught me more about responsibility and leadership than any job and experience ever could. I graduated as a distinguished graduate and returned home to get a full-time job in sheet metal. 

What brought you to the MDANG?  How have you enjoyed your time here?

I've been home for two years and have been a full time technician for almost a year and a half. Working on the A-10 is the coolest job any 20-year-old man could ever hope to have. On top of working on one of the deadliest planes known to man, I have some of the most eclectic and entertaining coworkers. They have become my family, not to mention I do spend more time at work with my shop then I do with my own family or girlfriend. The military has helped me broaden my social tree and I now have access to some great professional resources for work and personal issues. 

What is your favorite Air Force or military memory or story?

My most unforgettable memory was when I received my Airman's Coin in Basic Training. That coin represented everything I had been working so hard for those two months of Basic Training. I wanted to be an airman so bad. When we were first issued our ABU's, I was filled with such joy and excitement I could barely contain it all. When we finally received the coin, we also received the title of Airman. We were no longer trainees, we all felt like we were something greater. I felt like I could have taken over the world that day. When my MTI handed me the coin, I saw the gleam of pride in her eyes. I knew that my family in the audience would have the same look on their faces as well and that made me equally proud. I still carry the coin with me to this day; it reminds me that the tougher the journey, the greater the reward.

What are you passionate about?

I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing at this time in my life. I take pride in my uniform and acknowledge that I am part of the 1 percent of Americans that serve in the military. Although I am only an Airman 1st class, I have aspirations to move up the chain and someday be SMSgt. Wierzbicki or maybe if I'm lucky, Chief Wierzbicki!