August Airman Spotlight
By Senior Master Sgt. Edward Bard, 175th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 31, 2014
Baltimore -- The 175th Wing would like to present Staff Sgt. Ousseynou Soumou Sonko, Avionics Test Station and Components Craftsman, as this month's Spotlight Airman. Sonko joined the Maryland Air National Guard in 2007 and is a recent graduate of Georgetown University.
Here is some more information about Staff Sgt. Ousseynou Soumou Sonko:
Name: Ousseynou Soumou Sonko
Rank: Staff Sgt.
Education: I am a dual degree graduate candidate (MSFS/MPP) at Georgetown University, class of 2014. I graduated on May 15, 2014 with a Master of Public Policy from the McCourt School of Public Policy and on May 16, 2014 with a Master of Science in Foreign Service from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. At the Master of Science in Foreign Service graduation ceremony, I was also awarded the School of Foreign Service Dean's Citation for Service.
Hometown: I reside in Clinton, Maryland, but I was born in Dakar (Senegal)
Joined the Maryland Air National Guard: 2007
Total Service Years: I have served on Active Duty as a U.S. Army healthcare specialist (combat medic) from 2002 to 2006. Since 2007, I have served in the Maryland Air National Guard as an Avionics Test Station and Components Craftsman. I also worked on Avionics Sensor Systems and Electronic Warfare Systems.
Favorite Movie: My favorite movie is Costner's "Thirteen Days".
Favorite TV Show: "Band of Brothers"
Last Book Read: The last book that I read was Taming Intractable Conflicts: Mediation in the Hardest Cases by Chester A. Crocker, Fen Osler Hampson, and Pamela Aall. I am currently reading Samantha Power's book, "A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide".
Favorite Food: My favorite type of food is Italian or Moroccan cuisine. I like Mediterranean flavors in general.
Favorite Sports Team: I do not really have a favorite sports team, but I enjoy watching a game of soccer, basketball, or football whenever I can. The Baltimore Ravens performed superbly in 2012.
Tells us your brief life story?
I was born and grew up in Dakar, the capital of Senegal. I did my primary education at an international school, the Ecole Franco-Senegalese Dial Diop du Plateau. I attended middle school at La Cathedrale - a Catholic Institution. And I attended high school at the Lycee Lamine Gueye (formerly Van Vollenhoven) where I focused my studies on biological and natural sciences. Growing up, I was passionate about soccer and spent my free time on soccer fields in downtown Dakar where I lived. Soccer introduced me to many virtues that I also found in my military career, such as leadership, teamwork, and perseverance. I graduated high school and I went to Marseille (in France) to attend medical school. After two years in France, I migrated to the United States under the Electronic Diversity Visa program.
I moved from Marseille to New Jersey where my brother and two uncles lived. It was difficult at first because I was not yet fluent in English, but I welcomed the opportunity to pursue the American dream and to be a part of a great society. I worked two jobs to support myself and to pay for school. While attending Bergen Community College, I worked as a gas station attendant for Amoco and as a warehouse associate in a major department store. In May 2002, a week after I graduated from Bergen Community College, I enlisted as a combat medic (currently 68W) in the U.S. Army.
Tell us about your military career?
My father was a Captain in the Senegalese Army. My father was stationed in Paris, France where my parents, my brother and I lived between the times I was three and six years old. Soon after our return to Senegal, my father was promoted to Commandant, but he died of illness before he got to wear his rank. For me, enlisting in the Army as a combat medic was a way to honor him. I discovered quickly the virtues of the military. I found abundant pride and fulfillment serving in the U.S. military and caring for the troops. I deployed to Iraq on two occasions: first, in 2003, then in 2005. The challenges were immense but the honor even greater.
After completing my four year term with the Army, I moved to Maryland in December 2006. I wanted to continue to serve but also to experience a new branch of the military. I enlisted in the Maryland Air National Guard in 2007 as a 2A071P; I worked on electronic countermeasure systems. The National Guard has been rewarding. It has allowed me to maintain my military commitment while advancing my academic education. I attended the University of Maryland--College Park (UMCP), where I acquired a BA in Economics.
What brought you to the MDANG?
During my last year in the Army, I met an Army Captain from Maryland. He told me about his experience in the Maryland National Guard. When I arrived in Maryland a few months later, I contacted a recruiter who gave me a tour of Warfield Air National Guard Base and the Avionics section. After meeting and talking with several members of the unit, I found the 175th Wing a good fit for me. I have done very well here. I enjoy the mission and the people are fantastic. The professionalism and the dedication of the men and women of the 175th Wing have consistently impressed me.
What is your favorite memory?
The homecomings have been my favorite memories. During my deployments or welcoming back units from their tours of duty, I have witnessed the best the nation has to give. They are the men, women, and families who stand ready to sacrifice for the goodness of the country; the veterans who welcome you at the airports and thank you for your service because they have done it and know what it takes; or the citizens who thank you and always support you. Sometimes, the work is tough and the days get long but it is always worth it when I get to wear the uniform once more. My proudest moments were when I graduated from basic training and later, when I was presented the Maryland Air National Guard 2012 Outstanding Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year Award.
What are you passionate about?
I would enjoy working on international affairs. I think that much can be accomplished through the study and practice of diplomacy, development, and conflict resolution. I have focused my graduate studies on International Policy & Development and on Global Politics & Security. In my free time, I like reading history books and policy papers.