INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --
Since entering the Air Force in January 2013, Senior Airman Megan Morales, 39th Security Forces Squadron reports and analysis section lead, has dedicated her career to meet mission requirements, increase unit effectiveness and pursue personal and professional development opportunities.
Base security and law enforcement sum up Morales’ career, however, that is set to change as she was recently selected for commission as a second lieutenant through the Senior Enlisted Commissioning Program.
“This is huge for me,” said Morales. “This means that my leadership had a lot of faith in me. When I first brought it up, they took it on like a team right away. We didn’t have much time with inspection preparations and security forces being constantly busy. My leadership told me that if I take care of some steps they would handle the rest. It was even more humbling afterward to see the final product.”
SLECP is a commissioning program that allows designated Air Force senior leaders to directly select exceptionally performing and highly talented enlisted members for commissioning through officer training school.
“This is an outstanding achievement for Senior Airman Morales,” said Col. John Walker, 39th Air Base Wing commander. “I’m honored to have a Titan put forward for this prestigious honor. Her professionalism and commitment to the mission here has had a profound impact on her unit. Morales has shown her leadership and peers that she will continue to excel as an officer and leader.”
Morales was hand-picked by Gen. Tod D. Wolters, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and U.S. Air Forces Africa commander, as the sole selectee in the major command.
“Senior Airman Megan Morales’ work ethic is top shelf,” said Chief Master Sgt. Brent Chadick, 39th SFS manager. “In the short time that she was here, she displayed a tremendous work ethic, with not only the ability to find a problem but to fix that problem.”
Upon arrival to the 39th SFS back in June 2015, Morales worked on flight providing installation force protection. Three months after that, she was recruited to the reports and analysis section by Chadick.
“I hire talent, that’s my job as a security forces manager,” said Chadick. “We were looking for someone to do reports and analysis. Not a lot of Airmen want to own a problem, let alone fix it. Megan has always demonstrated that. So I went out, recruited her and said, ‘Here’s a position that you can do well at, and we as a squadron would benefit from having you in that position.’ Megan is talented and never leaves a stone unturned. She is very detail-oriented so we could do no wrong hiring her. That’s why she was our number one pick for this commissioning program.”
When recalling his first impression of Morales, Chadick described her as one of his own.
“I joke sometimes that she reminds me of my daughter,” said Chadick. “She is aggressive, tenacious and doesn’t let anything beat her. She is not only a good leader as a Senior Airman, but a good team player and follower when she needs to be in that role. Finding a balance between follower and leader is challenging.”
Upon receiving the news about her selection, Morales’ leadership joined her in telling her family.
“My leadership called my father with me on a video chat and told him,” said Morales. “It was really important for me to tell them. My father loves having a strong daughter who is out changing the world but my mom wants me home and that’s understandable.”
Morales attributed her passion to commission to the leaders she met while serving here.
“I didn’t know I wanted to commit to being an officer until I got to Incirlik,” said Morales. “It was because of my senior enlisted leadership and a lot of the officers that I’ve met here.”
During the selection process, Morales recalled a question of what she would do if not selected for commission. For Morales, there is nothing else she would rather do than serve in the Air Force.
“This is it; it’s the Air Force for 20 years,” said Morales. “Being at Incirlik, I believe I can make a difference. I enjoy doing this and this is the team I want to be a part of for the rest of my life.”
Morales understands that her future assignment and career field as an officer isn’t set in stone, but if she had a pick, it would be as a defender.
“I would absolutely love to come back and be a security forces officer,” said Morales. “With everything that has happened here, Incirlik has taught me that I can be a battlefield Airman no matter what career field I go into. I think a lot of the foundation I got from security forces is what is going to push me through the rest of my career, no matter where I end up.”
The road to get here hasn’t come easy, with Morales enduring long work days, exercises, inspections, a base-wide commercial power outage and her own personal hardships.
“This has been the toughest year and a half of my life,” said Morales. “It’s been a marathon not a sprint. I’ve been more frustrated and beaten down here than ever before, but I’ve also felt bigger wins than before and a closer brotherhood than I’ve ever had anywhere. This is my family.”
With Morales destined to soon leave her comfort zone, she will always remember the experiences she’s had here.
“I think we are all in such a race to move on but I’m nervous to leave this crew now because they have become my backbone,” said Morales. “I’ve learned a lot in my time here that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.”
Morales will look to trade in her stripes for bars when she attends officer training school in June 2017, at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.