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NEWS | Dec. 7, 2016

Airman transitions to officer corps

By Airman 1st Class Kevin West Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Joining the Air Force wasn’t his first plan. He had seen how expensive college could be and without a specific career path in mind, he decided that wasn’t the direction he wanted to take.

Growing up the son of a U.S. Marine, the thought of service had crossed his mind before. When two of his close friends joined the U.S. Air Force that influenced him to do the same.

Nearly seven years later Staff Sgt. Gabriel Lazurka, 628th Comptroller Squadron financial services supervisor, has completed his bachelors in business administration and will begin Commissioned Officer Training (COT) at the end of March 2017.

COT is a five-week program designed to transition Airmen and civilians into the Air Force commissioned officer corps. The career field options are healthcare, legal or ministry.

“Being an officer was definitely not my original goal,” said Lazurka. “When I first came in, I was kind of intimidated by the whole thing. I was 21 years old and I just wanted to do a good job. I wanted to know my job and perform to the best of my ability. From the beginning, I had a lot of support from my leadership. I had a lot of people mentor me, look out for me and leadership that supported me. They put me in the position to do this, but I didn’t know it at the time.”

Lazurka credits his wife, Michele, for supporting him in making the decision to transition from enlisted to officer. 

“Honestly, it was my wife who encouraged me to do it,” said Lazurka. “She works in the 628th Medical Group. She is really the one who supported me, pushed me and motivated me to do it.” 

Michele also received exciting news recently when she was named Air Mobility Command's Enlisted Health Services Management NCO of the Year for 2016.

With his wife's motivation and his hard work, the Lazurkas continue in their Air Force journey.

“He's one of the hardest working individuals I know,” said Staff Sgt. Michele Lazurka, 628th MDG NCO in charge of personnel and administration. “I am unbelievably proud of him and excited to see what the future holds for us.”

Lazurka’s early career experiences drive him to provide the same helpful treatment to his future Airmen.


“Throughout my career I have been supported by my leadership,” said Lazurka. “That is one thing that I want to make sure that I do. It should be the same for enlisted or officers; take care of each other.”

Lazurka’s working relationship with his current commander is a prime example of enlisted and officers working together.


“I wish everybody had a sergeant Lazurka in their squadron, because he is amazing,” said Maj. Samual Shimp, 628th CPTS commander. “He is so good, I don’t want him to go. He is that awesome. I knew he would get accepted to the COT program because of his leadership style. He succeeds at everything. He is my go-to for anything I need, not just for financial services. He is somebody who is going to lead and get the job done with very little supervision and guidance.”