Thunderbolt earns Outstanding Airman of the Year

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- He starts every morning with a 4 a.m. wake-up, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, pre-workout drink and an intense workout.

Tech. Sgt. Kyle Wilson, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment support NCO in charge, has been awarded as one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year and attributes his success to his rigorous fitness routine and family.

“I was overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude when I found out I was selected for this award,” Wilson said. “You don’t wake up every day and think you will have an opportunity as great as this.”

The Florida native is approaching his ten year anniversary in his Air Force career. From a command chief executive to an Airmen Leadership School instructor, Wilson explains he has utilized every opportunity the Air Force has brought his way.

“I have always tried to surround myself with people who push me to change, become better and step outside of my comfort zone,” Wilson explained. “My mentors and leaders who presented me with opportunities are without a doubt part of the reason why I have been selected for this award.”

Wilson’s contributions to the Air Force chief of staff’s second focus area of strengthening joint leaders and teams was a pivotal reason for his selection. During his four years at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Wilson was an ALS instructor and found innovative ways to not only train Airmen, but also incorporate U.S. Army Soldiers into enlisted professional military education programs. Wilson also helped advise and build the first NCO course for the International European Air Force Academy, among many other accomplishments.

On June 30th - just six days prior to his scheduled arrival to Luke Air Force Base - Wilson received a phone call notifying him that he had won the award. He was working out in the gym when Brig. Gen. Richard Moore, 86th Airlift Wing Commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Aaron Bennett, 86th Airlift Wing Command Chief, called to notify him.

“There wasn’t a better place to learn that I had won the award than the gym,” said Wilson. “I was overcome with emotion. I had to take a moment and reflect. It was an amazing feeling.”

Wilson has returned to his original career field in AGE at Luke.

“Stepping into a new role here is exciting,” explained Wilson. “There is opportunity to meet, teach and learn from a whole new group of people. I am thrilled to be a part of building the future of Airpower within the F-35A Lightning II program and I am driven to keep pushing our team forward to enhance the future success of Luke.”

Wilson explains that a consistent fitness routine is what keeps him grounded and focused to be the best Airman possible.

“Working-out allows me to step away from my daily life and put myself into a different mind space,” said Wilson. “I like to be up early and get a start to my day before most people even open their eyes. I can burn off any stress I might be carrying with me before the day starts allowing me to better focus myself at work to get the job done. It keeps me healthy, physically and mentally.”

Wilson’s wife, Master Sgt. Nalani Wilson, 56th Medical Support Squadron logistics flight chief, has played a vital role in supporting Wilson through his career. They share a passion for working out and contributing to Air Force culture.

Along with his step-daughter Aziya, son Cameron and daughter Kylie, Wilson explains that together with fitness, his family is a major contributor to his success.

“I actually met my wife doing my favorite thing – working out in the gym,” said Wilson. “She is a huge supporter in my life and our children’s. She has been there for all of us during every step we have taken forward in our lives. Family always comes first and they motivate me to become better every day.”

Approximately 290,000 enlisted total force Airmen were eligible to become an Outstanding Airman of the Year. Entries are selected from a board formed of command chief master sergeants from each major command and reviewed by the Air Force chief of staff.

The 12 Airmen are scheduled to attend a week long Air Force Association convention in Washington, D.C. this September. They will have a banquet held in their honor, have opportunities to meet and learn from senior leadership, will earn the Outstanding Airman badge and will also be serving on the AFA enlisted council for one year.

“Speaking positively on behalf of the Air Force is something I regularly do,” Wilson said. “This gives me the opportunity to take it to a larger scale and hopefully improve the lives of Airmen across the force.”