NEWS | Oct. 8, 2019

Lift while you climb

By Senior Airman Christian Sullivan Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Staff Sgt. Christopher Stuebbe, 628th Logistics Readiness Squadron forward area refueling point team chief, has not only been named Air Mobility Command’s NCO of the year, but was also selected as one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year, one of the Air Force’s biggest honors.

The 12 OAY is the Air Force’s top enlisted members selected out of 36 nominees representing major commands, direct reporting units, field operating agencies and Headquarters Air Force. They are selected based on superior leadership, job performance and personal achievements.

Stuebbe was notified by AMC leadership about his accomplishment, though not in the way he expected, and then got the opportunity to interact with Air Force leaders both past and present, soaking in their knowledge to use as a new councilman for 12 OAY.

“Originally, I had a phone call with our commander because he pretended he was mad at me for something I messed up,” said Stuebbe. “I went to our chief’s office and got a call on my cell phone and a woman’s voice asked if she was speaking to sergeant Stuebe, and I said ‘yes, who is this?’ She told me it was General Miller, AMC’s commander. She told me she was proud of what I had done at AMC level and that I won 12 Airmen of the year and everyone in the room started yelling.”

After the excitement died down Stuebbe said he still didn’t really know how to feel, he had never known about this award, let alone tried to win it.

“I had never heard of the award before this, but as I learned what it was and how monumental it is I really started to get excited,” said Stuebbe. “Winning it was never a goal of mine. Ever since I joined the military my motivation and drive to exceed the standard has carried me forward.”

After he and the other winners arrived at the nation’s capital, they received a tour unlike anything he could imagine, seeing things most people will never get to experience.

“It was insane,” said Stuebbe. “We got to fly in a UH-1 Huey, in restricted air space that only the president can fly in, we went to Arlington Cemetery, the Airman’s Monument, the 12 OAY dinner, and they just took care of us and treated us like we were royalty. The amount of work they put in was breathtaking.”

While the trip as a whole was memorable Stuebbe said, meeting Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein was an experience he won’t soon forget.

“Getting to meet Chief Wright and the Chief of Staff on a personal level was the most memorable part,” said Stuebbe. “We got to talk to them not as chief or sergeant but as Kaleth and Chris.”

Now that the tour is over, Stuebbe has his near future planned out, including plans with the 12 OAY and his own career path.

“For the next year we’re considered 12 OAY enlisted counselors, so we’ll be traveling all over to talk about leading the enlisted force,” said Stuebbe. “On top of those panels and speaking engagements after that’s over I’m going to be submitting a package to become a TACP officer, and this entire experience is really going to help with that.”

Something Stuebbe will take with him as he accomplishes more goals in his career is a sentiment by Chief Wright, a motto he’s already been living to get to this point.

“The biggest takeaway from the tour, which was the consensus from the generals and command chiefs, was just like Chief Wright says, ‘lift while you climb,’” said Stuebbe. “I don’t want people to think I got this award by myself, I had great mentors and friends that helped along the way and if there’s anyone trying to reach their goals I just hope they remember to lift while they climb.”