News: ANG's Outstanding Senior NCO of the Year: Master Sgt. Joseph Ashwood
Story by Senior Airman John Hillier
Leaving behind a legacy of service for the next generation is what drives Master Sgt. Joseph G. Ashwood, the Air National Guard Outstanding Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.
Master Sgt. Ashwood, assigned to the 147th Reconnaissance Wing at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base, Texas was selected for his leadership and commitment to training his wingmen to accomplish their missions.
Ashwood enlisted in the Air Force as a fuel systems apprentice at the age of 17, taking up a family tradition of military service. His grandfather fought in WWII, and his father and several uncles served in Vietnam. After seven years of active-duty service, he joined the Texas Air National Guard in 2003.
"I don't like to be in the spotlight," said Ashwood. "When people tell me how much they appreciate my service, it's a little overwhelming for me. Being named an Outstanding Airman of the Year is a big honor for me, although I'd like to be at work doing my job, I realize that I have a story that could resonate with others who decide they want to serve their country."
A deployment to Slovakia showed Ashwood how fortunate he is to be an American, and how powerful an individual Airman can be.
"We were the first Air Force unit to deploy to Slovakia and use their ranges," said Ashwood. "The conditions they were dealing with because of the country's economic situation left them without up-to-date equipment, and they weren't necessarily able to fly the aircraft they had. But they still were very enthusiastic about their service. They still were willing to do everything they could to serve their country. The individual Airman's attitude plays a huge part of what we're able to do as an Air Force. But you decide how enthusiastically you're going to serve your country."
Ashwood does not have to look far to find motivation to excel.
"What really inspires me is my wife and kids," Ashwood said. "Everything I do is with them in mind. At the most basic level, I want to make sure I do something my kids will be proud of...I want to be sure to show a good example of how to live your life and be a good person."
After finishing his bachelor's degree, Ashwood began home brewing beer as a way to unwind from work and find quiet personal time.
"I started [home brewing] to have a nice way to decompress," said Ashwood. "Another person at work did it, and I felt I could jump into it easily. It provides me with a level of accomplishment - I can say 'I made this.' It's been a good outlet for me."
Whether it's coordinating troop-in-contact events, training the next generation of Airmen or passing along life lessons to his children, Ashwood's drive to succeed contributed to his selection as ANG Outstanding Senior NCO of the Year.
"I want to be successful at whatever I do," he said. "I want to be a good role model to my kids, a good husband to my wife. Whatever it is I do, I just want to do it to the fullest."