JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --
Technical Sergeant Jason D. Selberg was chosen as the Air National Guard's Outstanding Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year, and one of the Air Force's 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.
Selberg, a MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) sensor operator with the 214th Attack Squadron, Arizona Air National Guard, was selected from tens of thousands of enlisted ANG Airmen for the honor. He was chosen for his professionalism both on and off the job, and a commitment to improving himself and his teammates.
“The Air National Guard is my second chance at military service and opened my eyes to take advantage of opportunities,” said Selberg. “I’ve been very fortunate in the opportunities my squadron has given to me.”
Selberg joined the Air Force for an opportunity at a career and the chance to do exciting things. After six years as an aerospace ground equipment mechanic, the opportunity to cross train into a new career came along.
“The unmanned aerial vehicle field popped up and it was a new thing, so I sprung up at the right place and the right time,” said Selberg. “I didn’t see myself finishing my career as a mechanic, so I signed up to be a sensor operator. Getting to go there from being a mechanic is awesome; it’s night and day.”
After eight years in the active duty Air Force, he spent a year in the private sector. Selberg says that the opportunity to join the Air National Guard was his second chance to serve the nation.
“I had three jobs in that year, and none of them was very successful,” Selberg said. “I didn’t want to be a civilian again. From there, I realized that this is my second chance being a sensor operator to step forward to be that guy in the squadron who I looked up to.”
Selberg attributes much of his own career success to the role models and mentors he’s had in the Air Force, modeling himself on a standout NCO in his former squadron.
“He was just an awesome NCO. He earned a lot of awards, was always going out on TDYs, out in the forefront of the cool stuff we did. He was kind of our tactical expert. Looking up to him gave me some goals to shoot for.”
“The 214th Reconnaissance Squadron there was a huge blessing at the time. I had good mentors going into the Guard like Chief Jeffrey Pahl who helped get me on the right foot and helped me shine from the beginning.”
When the uniform comes off, Selberg values time spent with his family, usually in their garden.
“We have a garden at home, and then a community garden we’re involved with as well,” said Selberg. “We like making things grow. As small as my yard is, it’s exploding with life and green things. That’s my little oasis, and it’s a good release from the workday.”
Along with the relaxation comes a chance to impart values to his children
“It’s good to show the kids where food comes from,” he explained. “I like that idea of knowing where your food comes from and doing something for yourself. I think that’s something we’re kind of losing as a society. They also get the sense of accomplishment, that ‘I made this’ feeling. It may have taken three months and a lot of work, but now I have a handful of peppers or whatever we’re growing at the time.”
Being named one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen is an honor Selberg never expected to receive.
“There are guys who are sitting next to me on a day-to-day basis who are doing the same thing as me operationally,” said Selberg. “I can’t imagine that it would be me over anyone else. You know, I’ve always looked up to PJs and combat controllers–guys who are confronting danger head on. I’ve helped resolve a troops in contact situation that potentially saved lives, but at the same time doing it remotely presents different challenges than what our forward operators have to face.”
Selberg says that he’s just tried to spread out the knowledge he’s gained to help make the people around him more effective.
“I’m just taking my expertise and trying to be able to talk to people and be able to teach it to others,” Selberg said. “I’ve been able to talk about RPAs and what we can bring to the fight, and how to use our technologies for helping out in search and rescue.”
“We’re getting the opportunity to step into the emergency and disaster management role with the 214th for domestic operations. We got to help out during the Sawmill Fire, which was a wildfire here in southern Arizona. After my military career is finished, I’d like to roll all that experience into some kind of disaster management role. I thrive in chaos, so working against natural disasters would be a good fit.”
Understanding and synthesizing many disparate streams of critical information and delivering it to the people who most need it is what a sensor operator’s job is all about, and few do it better that Tech. Sgt. Selberg. For his demonstrated expertise in his mission, as well as his commitment to make all of the teammates around him better, the Air National Guard is proud to name him our Outstanding NCO of the Year.