JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
In 2013 Grace Tinkey graduated high school with a clear vision of her future and was appointed to the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Unfortunately, life took an unexpected turn, and her focus had to change.
"Picture yourself at 17-years-old, entering the military, but also knowing your family is back home dealing with very challenging and mentally straining issues," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Tinkey, 15th Airlift Squadron loadmaster. "I put my dream aside and left the academy to be home and support my family."
After she left the USAF Academy, she took time to help her family and herself recover. She also earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Graphic Design and decided the time was right to enter the U.S. Air Force.
Tinkey enlisted and graduated from USAF Basic Training July 19, 2019, as an Airman 1st Class.
"I started my military journey almost eight years ago," said Tinkey. "Even though my dream was to attend the academy, I've been able to learn so much about myself. I wouldn't go back and change a thing."
Tinkey doesn't let her rank hinder her ability to lead fellow loadmasters.
"I believe any rank can lead, as long as they are willing to put in the effort," said Tinkey.
On Nov. 22 2021, Tinkey received official notification from U.S. Air Force General Mike Minihan, Air Mobility Command commander, of her selection to the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program-Officer Training School.
Tinkey was the number one selectee from enlistees throughout AMC.
“Grace simply leads the way and is the leader we need,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Moore, 15th AS commander. “Her commitment to excellence and positive attitude make those around her better.”
"My dream has always been to retire with the Air Force," said Tinkey. "Now I have the opportunity again to retire as an officer.
She expressed that her family is immensely proud of her. They know how much it means to take her knowledge and experiences and lead other Airmen.
"I am extremely thankful for my leadership and everything they did for my family and me," said Tinkey. "I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity again. Re-entering the U.S. Air Force as an officer is something I will never take for granted."