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    Airman shines gold in his career’s final inning



    Courtesy Story

    163d Attack Wing   

    Story by Staff Sgt. Austin Harvil

    Upon enlistment, many Airmen set out to accomplish one goal or another. Attaining rank, going to school, or seeking healthcare for family all come to mind; alongside the honor of service to state and country.

    But what happens when the ride is nearly over? Accolades and success are boon companions, and the end of service date looms ever closer. What do the final days afield look like?

    For California Air National Guardsman Tech. Sgt. Erik Amato, 163rd Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance non-commissioned officer-in-charge, it’s time to look at a different field of play.

    “When I was playing for the McConnell (Air Force Base) softball team, I heard about the All Armed Forces Softball tournament,” Amato explained. “When I decided it was time to move on from the military, I thought, ‘Why don’t I try out for (the Air Force team)?’ and put my application in.”

    Amato had 18 months to cross something off his bucket list. Ever since playing college baseball before joining, he had wanted to represent a team at the national level. He played across the nation for the Veterans of Foreign Wars team from his local area, but never for the Air Force’s “All-Star” team equivalent.

    After putting in his application in June 2022, he was notified of his selection to go to a training and evaluation softball camp in the following month.

    “There were 24 guys out of 70 that went to the camp,” said Amato. “After four days, 17 of us would go on to the All Armed Forces tournament.”

    Amato hit the ground running and distinguished himself as a star shortstop, clenching his position on the team. The big day was already fast approaching; the 3-day tournament to decide which branch was best started in late August.

    The newly-formed team only had a week to gel together, practice, and strategize before it was time to represent the Air Force; guard, reserve, and active duty.

    “We had 3 days, 3 games a day, to show our stuff,” he said. “You’d get placed in the championship depending on overall performance, not necessarily wins and losses.”

    After 9 grueling days, it was the Air Force and Army in the final round. The Army started strong, obtaining a 5-2 lead in the top of the third inning. The Air Force tied in the bottom of the same inning, and catapulted into the lead with a nine-run streak in the 4th inning. The Air Force maintained the lead, taking the gold 16-8 in the end.

    Amato animatedly described the joy of making star plays throughout that final game; it was clear he felt his last few months weren’t wasted.

    “I love playing softball; and to represent the Air Force at this level? I couldn’t ask for more,” Amato said, a smile wide on his face.

    Now, Amato looks inwardly towards his full-time job at the Los Angeles Police Department. Of course, he is on the LAPD softball team, and he has his eyes set to get the team to the Police Softball World Series.

    However, Amato expressed how much his time with the California Air National Guard meant to him.

    “The confidence to try for the team, to apply to LAPD; all of that is thanks to my mentors,” Amato said. “The overall experience had made my career worth it, and the softball just topped it off.”

    Amato insisted on thanking Senior Master Sgt. Melody Witt, 163rd MXS fabrication flight chief, and Maj. Josh Weddington, 163rd MXS commander, for their support in helping him quickly apply and consequently succeed in his bucket-list goal of winning the All Armed Forces Softball Championship.



    Date Taken: 09.11.2022
    Date Posted: 09.20.2022 13:09
    Story ID: 429485
    Location: MORENO VALLEY, CA, US 

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