Face of Defense: Air Force NCO Tabbed for Officer’s Commission
By Staff Sgt. Angelique N. Smythe
65th Air Base Wing
LAJES FIELD, Azores, Dec. 5, 2013 A noncommissioned officer from the 65th Force Support Squadron here was recently selected for commissioning as a first lieutenant in the Medical Service Corps.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Jacob Williams, the 65th Force Support Squadron’s career development craftsman at Lajes Field, Azores. U.S. Air Force photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Jacob Williams, 65th FSS career development craftsman, was so anxious he couldn't eat breakfast on the morning of Oct. 18. Some of the MSC applicants with whom he was connected on Facebook had already received notification of their
selection for a commission. Applicants who were not selected received no response. So far, he'd received nothing.
"We played wallyball during unit [physical training] and it was so hard to focus on anything because I knew the results were out," Williams said.
After physical training, Williams visited the 65th FSS director, Jeff Adams, to ask if he'd received any word. Williams said Adams strung him along for a while before finally presenting the good news. He'd been selected for a commission.
"Seeing my name on the list was one of the most rewarding professional moments I've ever had," Williams said. "My wife, Jennifer, and I were shocked and thrilled. I'd heard the selection numbers were going to be low and I was prepared to not be selected."
Sixty-seven applicants were admitted into the MSC commissioning program: 36 civilian recruits, 25 enlisted and six Air Force Academy graduates.
Williams will pin on first lieutenant bars on Jan. 12, 2014, after separating from active duty as a staff sergeant the day prior.
"There will be a commissioning ceremony and I will be a first lieutenant with two years of constructive credit for having a master's degree," he said. Williams will then attend commissioned officer training for five weeks at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
Medical Service Corps officers perform health service administrative duties in Air Force medical treatment facilities.
During the application process Williams shadowed several 65th Medical Group Air Force MSC officers, including Col. Lorn Heyne, Lt. Col. Zoya Lee-Zerkel, Lt. Col. Richard Smith, Capt. Ryan McCrae, Capt. Katherine Hass, Capt. Gillian Taylor-Dorsett and Capt. Cody Hess, to gain an overview of their various responsibilities.
"It was evident that he invested his time wisely preparing for a commission in the U.S. Air Force," said Hess, the 65th Medical Support Squadron’s resource management and systems flight commander.
"Williams' interpersonal skills, education and exceptional track record instilled confidence in his new MSC family,” Hess added. “Confidence is earned when you combine determination, hard work and credibility. These ingredients are a recipe for success and we look forward to the great things from soon-to-be Lieutenant Williams."
Williams attributes his success to his mentors and goal-setting skills.
"Goals are very important; without goals, you will lose focus on what you are working toward," he said. "My next goal is to start working toward my board certification."
Williams said he makes an effort to emulate people who approach challenges differently than he does rather than those who might be in constant agreement with things he would already instinctively do.
He also credits much of his success to his wife, Jennifer.
"My wife is the one person who is always there to pick me up and bring me back to Earth when I need that," Williams said. "It has not been easy. Through the last seven years, I have taken classes through two deployments, a permanent change of station, studying for promotions, professional military education, birth of a child and also as my wife attended nursing school.
“I took days off from work around midterms and finals,” he continued. “I took school work with me on leave and vacations. Weekends belonged to whatever class I was taking at the time. My wife was amazing. I could not have done it without her support and understanding."
Williams, a native of McLain, Miss., enlisted in the Air Force in February 2006. After completing his career development courses, he began taking classes and earned a Community College of the Air Force associate degree in human resource management in 2008. Two years later, he received his Bachelor of Science degree in general business from William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Miss. He then graduated in December 2012 with a Master of Arts degree in global business management from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. With a master's degree in hand, Williams quickly began the MSC application process.
For his fellow airmen who might consider commissioning, Williams advises them to do their research and seek the program that is right for them.
“Find someone who has gone through the process and pick their brain,” he said. “Attack your education. Get in and keep going. The harder you work, the more rewarded you'll feel when it's over.
“Never leave tuition assistance on the table at the end of the year; this is free money the Air Force wants to give you, Williams added. “Take it and do your best."