05/04/2015 – BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan —
Surrounded by fellow defenders, an Airman assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron here learned that his days as a member of the Air Force’s enlisted corps were numbered when leadership revealed his selection for Officer Training School, May 1.
Tech. Sgt. Shawn Avery, 455th ESFS NCO in charge of police services, raised his right hand and recited the oath of enlistment in January 2001. Abiding by the philosophy his mother instilled in him as a child, Avery filled the 14 years that followed with achievements, self-improvement and an unyielding desire to do more.
“Failure was not an option,” the Alabama native said. “My mother taught me that. As a single parent with four children we were raised with a good work ethic. She worked two, sometimes three jobs to make sure we had what we needed. I saw that, and learned just by watching her. Slacking was not an option.”
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Shawn Avery, 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron NCO in charge of police services, smiles after learning of his selection for Officer Training School May 1, 2015 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. After enlisting in 2001, Avery garnered recognition as an elite gate guard and Military Training Instructor, ultimately graduating from Park University with a degree in criminal justice and earning a candidacy at Officer Training School. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Amstutz/ Released)
With that principle as his compass, Avery exceeded expectations and garnered recognition everywhere he went. From being selected as an elite gate guard at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, to becoming a Military Training Instructor at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, the Airman never met a trail he couldn’t blaze.
“Being an MTI really built me as an NCO,” Avery said. “I got my blue rope, signifying I was in the top 10 percent of MTIs, and I earned two degrees from the Community College of the Air Force, but the way I was raised, that wasn’t enough. I went on to earn my Air Education and Training Command master instructor certification, making me in the top two percent of instructors at the time.”
With his military education well in hand, and having attained every rank-applicable honor possible, Avery turned his attention to civilian education.
“I looked at my career and thought I’ve been in the military for as long as I have and I have nothing to show for it,” Avery said. “At that point, I really started to push my career and push my education.”
True to his character, Avery made quick work of attaining a bachelor’s in criminal justice. No sooner had the goal been met, that Avery set his sights on another: a commission.
“Of course, when I got my bachelor’s degree it wasn’t enough,” he said. “I needed to apply to OTS because I’ve always tried to take it a step further. I’ve enjoyed my career and I’m going to be in the force until they kick me out, but I would regret not getting involved in every corner of the Air Force that I could, so the next step was becoming an officer.”
With his application submitted in January, months of painstaking silence came to an end when Avery received his notification of acceptance. In spite of his success, the technical sergeant remains rooted in the principles that first led him to serve.
“I’m a country boy from Alabama,” Avery said. “School was nowhere in my future, but I did it. Now that I’ve traveled the path myself, I want to guide people on it. I was raised not to exceed and step on people, but to exceed and bring people with me. That’s what I will always strive to do.”
By Staff Sgt. Whitney Amstutz,
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Published May 04, 2015
U.S. Air Force Maj. Ryan Bodge, 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron commander, congratulates Tech. Sgt. Shawn Avery, 455th ESFS NCO in charge of police services, after revealing Avery’s selection for Officer Training School May 1, 2015 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. After enlisting in 2001, Avery garnered recognition as an elite gate guard and Military Training Instructor, ultimately graduating from Park University with a degree in criminal justice and earning a candidacy at Officer Training School. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Amstutz/Released)