Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Awardee Spotlight: Senior Master Sgt. Robert Beabout

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The 932nd Airlift Wing recognizes the hard work and dedication of its 2023 Annual Award Winners.  In this spotlight article, we are highlighting Senior Master Sgt. Robert Beabout, 932nd Security Forces Squadron logistics and supply (S4) superintendent.

What did having your name announced as an annual winner for the 932d AW mean to you and what was your initial reaction? 

I’m proud to hear my name announced as an annual award winner.  But I was more excited to see that Senior Airman Edurdo Castillo from my squadron won in the Airman category.  My name might have been on the Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Award, but the 932nd Defenders in my squadron are the reason I won.  They deserve all the credit, and I would not be where I am at this point in my career without them.

What inspired you to join the Air Force, and how has your journey led to this remarkable achievement as an annual award winner for the 932nd Airlift Wing?

I initially joined the Air Force out of a sense of duty and a desire to serve my country.  Originally, I enlisted into the Air Force active-duty component.  At the conclusion of my four-year contract, I separated and went to college.  After graduating from the University of Kansas and establishing a civilian career, I realized I missed the Air Force.  I re-enlisted into the Air Force Reserve and was stationed at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.

During my last deployment during Operation Allies Refuge, I met with individuals from Scott AFB, Illinois.  After learning more about the 932nd SFS, I decided I wanted to be a part of that great team.  I applied to the open S4 superintendent and was selected.

Can you share a specific experience or project that you believe contributed significantly to your selection as an award winner? What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?

The most significant event that contributed to my selection as an award winner did not happen at Scott AFB.  It happened in 2021 during Operation Allies Refuge.  At that time, I was serving as the 1st Expeditionary Civil Engineer Group first sergeant.  During that operation, I learned the importance of the term Mission Ready Airmen.  Throughout the chaos, Airmen were required to perform tasks outside their Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) to accomplish the mission. They took personal ownership in the mission and did whatever it took for mission success.  Lives were at stake if the mission wasn’t accomplished.

Here is where that ties into my success at the 932nd.  I have brought back the leadership lessons learned from that period.  SFS Airmen are taught they need to understand the commander’s intent and accomplish the mission. They are encouraged to offer input and insight to any operation or training event we may undergo.  Our members bring a unique perspective to the fight that can’t be ignored.  The Air Force Reserve brings members into a squadron that have more skills than just what’s in their career development brief (CDB) or military professional military education.  As SFS leaders, fostered a climate that allows individuals, regardless of rank, to utilize those outside skills to enhance the squadron.  During training they are placed in positions to make difficult decisions in a short amount of time by using the best information they have at the time.  This has built confidence and furthered the commander’s intent of creating independent battle-ready defenders.  We make sure every Airman understands their role in the larger air force mission.  They also understand preparing for the Great Power Competition will include assisting other squadrons with tasks. 

As a result of taking extreme ownership of the unit, 932nd SFS are premiere Air Force Defenders in and implement the Air Force Reserve Commander’s priorities of “Ready Now.”

As an annual award winner, what message do you hope to convey to your peers and those coming up in the ranks about dedication, excellence, and service?

The message I hope to convey is to be humble but confident.  As a leader, listen and trust your Airmen, we don’t know everything.  Every generation wants to dismiss the next generation and be weary of them.  The generation preceding me thought we were lazy and were going to destroy the Air Force.  But I think we are still the world’s greatest Air Force.   The next generation is going to be fine and will take the Air Force to the next level. 

How do you balance your duties and responsibilities within the Air Force with personal growth and development? Any tips for maintaining such a high level of performance and commitment?

The best advice I could give anyone about balancing your military life with your personal life is to understand the concept of prioritization.  An individual needs to figure out what success looks like for them and prioritize accordingly.  They also need to understand that priorities can change frequently.

For example, during a school year, an Airman may need to prioritize his time towards their college classes.  They may decrease their commitment to the Air Force while they are actively in school. Being a successful student is their current priority.  Someone may be looking at a promotion in their civilian job or working on a big project.  Success to them hinges on their civilian career.   A new parent may have to step back because they have a child or spouse who is going through a medical diagnosis.  Being committed 100% for their family is their current priority.

In the end, an Airman needs to remember his commitment to the Air Force.  I’ll use myself as an example.  I have a child with Down Syndrome and numerous medical issues.  I communicate with my leadership and Airmen about future weeks that I am not available due to hospital stays and my son and family get my 100% that week.  However, I laid the groundwork and prepared to be unavailable by giving more time to the Air Force prior to being unavailable.  Members of my squadron will jump in and help me.  That also means that I need to jump in and help others when they need to step away.  You can’t balance your entire military life and personal life without support.

Seek out a support system and utilize them to assist you.  Communicate any issues through your chain, often they will help you juggle your priorities.

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations and goals within the Air Force, and how do you plan to continue making a positive impact on your unit and the broader Air Force community?

Personally, I aspire to be a Wing Command Chief.  But to be honest, I am not worried about that right now.  I want to continue to mentor my Airmen and set them up for success.  I currently have two noncommissioned officers who are trying to get their commission.  I want that for them more than I want to get promoted.  Setting my Airmen to be successful is the best way to have a positive impact in my unit.  I am not going to be around much longer in the Air Force.  I owe the Air Force a lot for the success I have had in life.  The best thing I could do for the broader Air Force community is to foster a climate in which the next generation of Airmen can take us to new heights.