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From Rebellious Youth to Award-Winning Airman: MSgt Ronald Weaver, 921st Contingency Response Squadron (CRS), Travis AFB, CA

By MR. MATT LIPTAK, Staff Writer

As a young man, MSgt Ronald Weaver had found himself traveling a dead-end path after deciding to leave high school before graduation. He was spending too much time with the wrong people and knew he needed a change of direction. Weaver said, “I wanted to get out before it was too late.”

Fortunately for Weaver, history was on his side. His family roots in the military went back four generations. His dad had been in the Army and Weaver lived in Panama and Germany while his dad was stationed there. As he considered his options, the Marines seemed like an appealing choice, but his father steered him in the direction of the Air Force.

Before he could enlist, however, he had to qualify to get in the Air Force by restarting his education. He signed up for a boot camp-type program named the Youth Challenge Academy in Fort Gordon, GA. He enrolled in the Delayed Enlistment Program for the Air Force in 2001, while undergoing the Fort Gordon training.

“It’s a boot camp for youth where you can get your high school diploma and GED through six months of military-style training,” Weaver said. “Once I went through there, I took my Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test [ASVAB]. My recruiter/supervisor was a security forces member and he talked to me a little bit about it, and I got accepted for some other jobs, but with the path I was heading, I needed something to get me out of the town I was from as soon as possible. Security forces gave me that option as well. I liked the opportunities of light infantry work, weapons instructor, and K-9.”

Joining the security forces opened up a new world to Weaver and was perhaps the best choice he could have made. With the Air Force, his life was on a new trajectory where the sky was the limit. It was a journey that has taken him around the world and deep into learning many aspects of the security field.

Weaver’s initial role in security forces was to provide security for Air Combat Command nuclear forces.

Weaver said “It was an eye-opener.” Becoming a parent was part of the reason he decided to stay long-term in the Air Force. After his daughter was born he reenlisted, going to Aviano Air Base in Italy for four years. His work involved checking out fellow Airmen on their knowledge of the base and areas of operations, weapons, and tactics.

In 2007, Weaver was stationed at sometimes frigid Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. It was there he was taught combat arms and immediately turned that knowledge towards training others on the use of small arms weaponry.

A year later, he was sent on to Edwards Air Force Base, CA. He was also deployed overseas on multiple occasions. While he was based out of Aviano, he was deployed to Iraq for two months. He was one of 30 sent from that base along with 70 other service members from other bases.

Weaver’s duty was unremarkable, but his service there turned out to be notable. His major daily task was to prepare Conex shipping containers for transport on vessels. He was also detailed to patrol the area, keeping a close eye out for thieves.

Mortar fire was a common occurrence, he said. “At first, I would react, but after a while, I would not even get out of my cot,” he confided to the Daily Republic. During his time in Iraq, he helped to chase down a young thief who had stolen a truck. Another time he reported back on a suspected ambush that was being set up by hostile forces.

That deployment helped earn him an achievement award. He later found himself stationed in Kadena Air Base in Okinawa in 2010 and then to Osan Air Base in Korea. While in Kadena he was deployed to Qatar as a police officer. It was in Kadena where he gained more in depth knowledge on how to be a weapons instructor. It was in Osan that he learned how to take charge on the spot, he told the Daily Republic.

His current station, however, has been perhaps the most enlightening one. He is assigned to the 621st Contingency Response Wing and runs a team of 26 Airmen who specialize in air base defense.

“[With] the Contingency Response Wing [CRW], what I have gained most from being here is just making decisions,” he said. “You are put in situations at times and there may not be a checklist to go off of … for example, if you have a gate runner you may have to have the lowest ranking Airmen make a split second decision where someone[‘s] life can depend on it. You don’t get that in the traditional security forces unit. It pushes you to do things at a level you never do from the lowest ranking Airmen to myself as a MSgt.”

Weaver said that daily duty allows you to make major decisions at an earlier age and thus better grooms Airmen for future assignments. Airmen learn to make sound decisions, which is a big piece of being a security forces member, he said.

Weaver must have learned his security forces lessons well. In 2017, he was the Air Mobility Command nominee for the Lance P. Sijan Leadership Award and won the Air Force Outstanding Security Forces Support Staff award. These awards recognize the accomplishments of officers and enlisted Airmen who demonstrate the highest qualities of leadership in the performance of their duties and conduct of their lives.

“The CRW not only taught me how to make decisions, but working with so many other career fields within our wing has also allowed me to grow in so many ways,” he said. “It has allowed me to see the Air Force from a different lens and given me the opportunity to see the entire Air Force mission, not just that of Security Forces.”

Perhaps a more impactful reward of Weaver’s service, however, has been the ability to help guide Airmen under him. He knows that his life course has not always been a straight line to success and he wants to be there for other Airmen who face obstacles in their careers. He strongly believes a little extra input can be the fuel they need to take them to new heights.

“l look at my background and understand that I was a late bloomer in the Air Force and was kind of hard-headed coming in,” he said. “It took a few people to see past that and understand there was more [to me] than what I was showing. I want to be able to return what was taught to me to other people. I have been fortunate enough to have mentored a few [Airmen] and have watched them grow in their careers. It [was] rewarding because, at the end of the day, when my time is done and I retire, those memories will hold more than anything else. It will be the impact I have had on peoples’ lives that matters the most to me.”