JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va., March 17, 2017 —
At first, honor guard wasn’t even a thought for then-Air Force Airman 1st Class Quinton Gittens.
Then, Gittens was tasked to join the honor guard program.
“When I started honor guard, I wasn’t the best,” said Gittens, who’s now a staff sergeant with the 633rd Force Support Squadron here.
“I was struggling pretty badly, but as time went on I ended up liking it, and I ended up doing really well at it,” he said.
Leading, Helping Airmen
For Gittens, honor guard became more than just doing details and participating in ceremonies. It became an opportunity to lead and help airmen become better.
After seven years of serving as an honor guardsman, Gitten was recognized for that leadership and received the 9th Air Force Program Manager of the Year award in 2016.
“My entire Air Force career I haven’t won any awards, until now,” Gittens said. “Honor guard has definitely rewarded me for my hard work.”
The Program Manager of the Year award program goes through multiple levels to determine the winner. It starts off at the base level, where individuals put in a package to be selected for the award. The package then goes up to the numbered Air Force level. This is where individuals are evaluated and compared to candidates from other bases. Next, the best candidates are chosen from their respective major command level. Lastly, those who were submitted for the 12 outstanding Airmen of the Year level are chosen.
While Gittens was very excited and accepted his award with great gratitude, he didn’t want to take all the credit.
According to Gittens, the airmen he led were his motivation. If it wasn’t for them, he doesn’t think he would have been a candidate for the award.
“Bettering someone, that is my motivation,” Gittens said. “If I reach out to you and help change your life … and I see the positive results from that, that’s my motivation.”
Gittens truly cares about the airmen he mentored, to the point where he turned down a position at the Air Force Honor Guard, since he believed he could better impact airmen at the base level.
“The definition of a true leader is having people who are willing to follow you,” Gittens said. “That’s what I lead by.”