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    Trailblazer Finds Place in Pioneering Wing

    Trailblazer Finds Place in Pioneering Wing

    Photo By Master Sgt. Neil Ballecer | U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Renee Miller, 163d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, California...... read more read more



    Story by Senior Airman Neil Mabini 

    163d Attack Wing

    MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, Calif. -- “Whoa, whoa, whoa… Let’s talk about this,” said a mother to her 17-year-old daughter who had just announced her decision to join the military.

    Now an aircraft maintenance officer with the 163d Attack Wing, California Air National Guard, U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Renee Miller recalls the moment she told her mother of her decision to enlist.

    “I was still in high school,” Miller recounted. “I came home from school one day and said, ‘Mom I’m joining the Air Force.’”

    As a young adult, Miller realized that she needed guidance after high school. This fueled her decision to attend college and join the military.

    “I was told that the military could assist me with finding a career and paying for college,” said Miller. “Not wanting to pass on a good opportunity I said, ‘Sign me up!’”

    Miller was the first person in her family to join the military. She served as an enlisted Airman for 14 years prior to commissioning as a maintenance officer in 2018. During her enlisted years, she earned two associate degrees, a bachelor’s degree, and her master’s degree with a majority of the educational costs covered by military tuition assistance. In August of 2020, she transitioned to the 163d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron where she serves as the officer-in-charge of operations.

    “Although joining the military is a big decision, it is the best decision I’ve ever made,” said Miller.

    Having spent most of her military career assigned to the 163d Attack Wing, Miller has been a part of the unit as it experienced a number of firsts which changed the paradigm of the enterprise.

    As a young enlisted Airman working in maintenance plans and scheduling, Miller was part of the Wing when it became the first Air National Guard unit to receive the MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted aircraft. She continued to serve in that role when the Wing became the first to use the aircraft to provide Incident Awareness and Assessment support to CALFIRE and other civil authorities responding to the California wildfires.

    “The work was enjoyable because of the people I worked with,” said Miller. “I had plenty of good senior noncommissioned officers who mentored me and encouraged me to volunteer for any opportunity.”

    Shortly after Miller returned from her 2014 deployment to Afghanistan, she contributed to the Wing’s successful conversion from flying the MQ-1 Predator to the MQ-9 Reaper. She also participated in the stand-up of the Wing’s Hap Arnold Innovation Center, the first and only one of its kind in the ANG. This center produced innovations that securely bridged the communications gap between military and civilian networks.

    In 2017, amidst working full-time for the Wing, Miller earned a master’s degree in organizational leadership and went on to commission as a maintenance officer.

    “I love being a part of maintenance. The culture we’ve built here is amazing. We’re just one big happy family,” said Miller. “When I became an officer, it felt like restarting my career over again, but it’s given me a different perspective on everything we do in the military. I feel like I could make a difference.”

    In March of 2021, Miller received an opportunity to make a tangible difference when she accepted the task to lead a maintenance team that would spearhead an initiative for the Wing.

    “We were tasked with moving a ground control station along with its support equipment to set up an MQ-9 Reaper launch and recovery site at Beale Air Force Base, California,” said Miller.

    Establishing the site and stationing an MQ-9 Reaper at Beale AFB would cut hours from the aircraft’s transit time allowing it to stay on station longer to provide emergency support.

    Coordinating and executing the setup of the forward operating site from scratch was yet another “first” for Miller. “Since I’ve been in the unit, I’ve never done anything like that before,” said Miller.

    The team’s efforts at Beale AFB not only increased the Wing’s capability to provide emergency homeland defense support, it also showcased the Wing’s ability to efficiently set up a mobile MQ-9 Reaper ground control station that is fully capable of launching and receiving the aircraft.

    “I was only one piece of a big puzzle. It took several teams from the 163d to move the station to Beale,” said Miller. “Overall, I was happy and honored to take part in the whole initiative, as well as grateful to be part of this Wing and where it’s going.”



    Date Taken: 08.27.2021
    Date Posted: 08.31.2021 13:37
    Story ID: 404089

    Web Views: 227
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