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Ambitious Cadet Became Air Force's 1st Black Female Fighter Pilot
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 09:54:45 -0600

Over 1 million young people have worn the Civil Air Patrol cadet uniform since Cadet Programs was founded in 1942. Countless thousands have grown into dynamic Americans and aerospace leaders. But one in particular — Shawna Rochelle “Lex” Kimbrell — stands out this February as CAP celebrates Black History Month.

Kimbrell, a CAP cadet in the Colorado Wing, went on to graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy and became the Air Force's first black female fighter pilot.

“I was never apprehensive about pursuing my dream,” said Kimbrell, who acknowledged wanting to be a fighter pilot as early as the fourth grade.

After earning her pilot wings in August 1999, Kimbrell flew over 170 combat hours in the F-16 Fighting Falcon during Operation Northern Watch in Iraq. “The sorties were anticlimactic until I recognized that people were actually shooting at us,” she told the Air Force News Service in 2012.

Kimbrell has enjoyed a successful career in the Air Force, earning an Air Medal with one device, an Aerial Achievement Medal and an Army Commendation Medal, among others.

Now a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force, she is stationed at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, where she is a member of the 78th Attack Squadron and serves as an MQ-9 pilot and mission commander.

Reflecting on her life, also in 2012, Kimbrell told Civil Air Patrol Volunteer magazine that CAP contributed greatly to her success.

“The military-like experience CAP afforded me really assisted with my transition to military life,” she said, adding that the cadet encampments she participated in as a cadet in Parker, Colorado, in the early 1990s gave her a sense of comfort when she went on to attend the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Kimbrell initially joined CAP to help her earn a pilot’s certificate. “But I ended up doing a lot more,” she said.

As team commander, Kimbrell led the Colorado Wing’s drill team to a first-place finish in the Rocky Mountain Region’s competition and then represented the region in the National Cadet Competition. She also commanded cadets in her local squadron.

“One of the most difficult things to do, I think, is to lead your peers,” she said, “and CAP is a great way to learn that skill.”

National Headquarters Hosts 1st Air Force’s Williams, Ekman, King
Wed, 07 Feb 2018 17:20:50 -0600

Lt. Gen. R. Scott Williams, commander of both 1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern) and the Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, visited Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters today, accompanied by his vice commander and by 1st Air Force’s command chief master sergeant.

When Williams and his contingent -- Brig. Gen. Kenneth P. Ekman and Chief Master Sgt. Richard D. King -- toured the National Operations Center, they got a look at WMIRS, CAP’s Web Mission Information Reporting System.

Designed by the center’s Terry Raymond, the software helps the NOC oversee all CAP missions — from start to finish. Built-in features in WMIRS allows CAP “to track sorties, payments and everything else,” said Ron Olienyk, deputy director of operations.

“From an accountability standpoint, WMIRS plays a role in our string of unqualified audits,” added CAP Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, national commander and CEO. As of fiscal 2016, CAP has achieved nine straight unqualified audits.

Williams shook hands with Raymond and Norm Ginther, another NOC employee. “CAP provides outstanding support to 1st Air Force and our nation,” he said. “Great work. Thanks a million.”

Earlier, Williams spoke with aerospace education and cadet program staff, including Dr. Jeff Montgomery, the AE director.

Montgomery told Williams “the general public is our outreach.” He showed the general several of CAP’s new STEM Kits as well as a set of textbooks. “We reach 300,000 students with AE products and programs,” he said.

“We didn’t have this when I was a kid,” Williams said. “I want to join now!”

He also heard from Curt LaFond, director of cadet programs, who talked about the four-tier program and how it’s growing, thanks in part to CAP’s partnership with the Air Force.

Smith offered his endorsement: “I consider our cadet program to be the best youth development program in the nation, bar none.”

 

Williams took command of 1st Air Force and USNORTHCOM in July 2016. As the Joint Force Air Component commander for the North American Aerospace Defense Command and USNORTHCOM, the 1st Air Force commander is directly responsible for developing contingency plans and conducting full-spectrum Air Force air and space operations in the continental U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as over the maritime approaches to the U.S. The organization is also responsible for providing Defense Support of Civil Authorities as the air component to USNORTHCOM.

He previously served as the chief, Office of Military Cooperation, U.S. Embassy, Kuwait. His earlier commands include the 169th Operations Group and 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina, as well as the Air National Guard Readiness Center, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

A command pilot with more than 3,900 flying hours, Williams has also flown 300 combat hours in operations Provide Comfort, Deny Flight, Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom. He was a participating commander in numerous coalition-partner exercises. He has also served as an instructor pilot.

Ekman became 1st Air Force and Air Forces Northern Command vice commander in January. Before that, he served as chief, Office of Defense Representative Pakistan. Previous assignments include sailplane instructor at the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, squadron and wing F-16 weapons officer, air component strategist, fighter squadron commander, analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and wing commander.

Ekman is a command pilot with 3,000 flying hours in the F-16 and F-22, including 600 combat hours.

King has been command chief master sergeant for both Continental U.S. NORAD Region and 1st Air Force since August 2016. He advises Williams on matters influencing the health, morale and welfare of assigned enlisted personnel and their families.

King previously served as command chief master sergeant of the New York Air National Guard Chief. He is currently on a military leave of absence from the Department of Veterans Affairs, where he serves as a police detective. He served as a security forces specialist for the New York Air National Guard for 22 years.

His leadership assignments include a six-year Special Duty assignment as first sergeant, deployed noncommissioned officer in charge of Anti-Terrorism and Force Protection in support of Operations Iraqi/Enduring Freedom in 2002 and 2005 and Operations Group superintendent in 2008. He retired as a police officer with the city of Niagara Falls and the town of Niagara, New York, in May 2012 after 23 years of New York state civil service.

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