JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- Master Sergeant Dawn C. Kloos was selected as the Air National Guard’s 2018 Outstanding First Sergeant of the Year.
Kloos, who served as a first sergeant with the 225th Air Defense Group, Western Air Defense, Washington Air National Guard, Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, was selected from among the finest of her specially designated counterparts for the award. Her passion for mentoring Airmen, fortitude and strength when helping others deal with adversity, critical thinking skills and ability to connect and relate to her Airmen has set her apart among her peers.
“I absolutely never thought I would receive this honor,” Kloos said. “This honor means so much to me. I’ve always felt like I was a hard worker in my career and in my life. I have dreams and hopes and aspirations of being a chief. That’s something I can use S.M.A.R.T [specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely] goals to attain. Attaining the honor of being OAY is something I never thought I could do.”
A warfighting force enabler, Kloos deployed three Airmen to two areas of responsibility, providing resources to separated families and contingency operations. Kloos also created a digital tracker for over 45 crucial family care plans covering three separate units increasing Department of Defense compliance by 50 percent. She co-authored the sector’s first ever sexual assault workshop and instructed first sergeant symposiums, authoring and facilitating realistic counseling scenarios for over 60 attendees.
“To be completely honest, I’ve worked very hard this year but I don't believe it’s about me,” Kloos asserted. “I believe that it’s about the team that we have at the Western Defense Sector and the 225th Air Defense Group. I don’t feel that it’s any specific act that I did. It’s about the team and we have a great team.”
Kloos has over 20 years of military service under her belt and served as an active duty Airman and a Reservist before joining the Guard. Kloos has served in finance, personnel and as a first sergeant in both the Air Force Reserve and the Guard. She recently cross-trained back into the personnel career field. Kloos has always been intentional about her career path and pulls from her diverse background and experiences to connect with her Airmen.
“I consider myself a total force Airman,” Kloos said. “I have been in the military for 21 years. Leaving active duty was the hardest decision I have made professionally. I joined the Reserves because we [active duty] play with them all of the time so it was an easy transition.”
Her husband is active duty in the United States Army and Kloos was able to serve in the Reserve component at the units where he was stationed. After relocating from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii and then back to McChord, her command chief at the time suggested she consider the Guard.
“I reached out to a past coworker of mine who was in the Guard right here at the 225th Air Defense Group and she just started sending me jobs,” Kloos recalled. “That’s what brought me into the Washington Air National Guard.”
Kloos is very adamant that her amazing leadership team and wingmen are the true driver of her success. She credits them for helping her get through the day to day life of a first sergeant.
“We have a great leadership team. I have great commanders who I work for, I have a ton of superintendents, additional duty first sergeants and a lot of great of NCO’s and officers who have helped me every single day,” Kloos said, her sincerity apparent in her tone.
One example of how Kloos has navigated the stresses of being a first sergeant is when she had the task of coordinating Red Cross emergency notifications for three families, organizing over $900 in grants along with overseas travel and low-cost lodging.
“As a first sergeant working here, it’s a lot of work and a lot of stress mentally and emotionally,” Kloos stated. I couldn't have gotten through each and every day without my team. I thank them each and every day for helping take care of the members here.”
Her sights set on becoming a chief, Kloos is making the most of her newly-broadened access to ANG senior leadership.
“I want to go to the conferences and bring back all of the knowledge I gain to Washington State enlisted members,” Kloos said with excitement. “I have a mission I want to accomplish that will have great benefit to everyone.”
“Sometimes installations that we are a part of, we see the small, minute part of our installation and our small mission and we don’t see the big issues that are going on within the bases and get to interact with our senior leadership,” she said.
Kloos’ career has not been met without adversity. Kloos was a victim of Hurricane Katrina.
“I lost everything. The one thing that was very important to me (during Hurricane Katrina) was that I was in the Air Force at that time,” Kloos said. “The Air Force brought in clothes for us to wear, they provided shelter and they provided food. So had I not been in the Air Force at that time I would have had nothing. The Air Force provided that stability for me and my family and took care of me. I’m so grateful for that and for the Air Force for doing that”
Kloos pours herself into her Airmen and utilizes every aspect of her life and career to help push them towards success. She looked on soberly when reflecting on her experience during Hurricane Katrina. Then she smiled and began to speak on her experiences talking with new enlistees.
“That’s the story I tell my Airmen, of Katrina,” Kloos reflected. “The Air Force provides for us and we serve them.”