ASYMCA honors Air Force staff sergeant at annual event

  • Published
  • By Maria Galvez
  • 673d ABW/PA
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Justin Simpson was recognized at the Armed Services YMCA of Alaska's 47th Annual Salute to the Military event for his exceptional service, leadership, and commitment to community initiatives.

“I’m honored and surprised because I did not expect this. I’m also grateful for my supervisors who submitted me for this award,” said Simpson.

Simpson's journey in the United States Air Force is deeply rooted in his father's service during Operation Desert Storm. Although his father hardly mentioned the deployment, Simpson drew strength from the respect and admiration his father received for being a leader. This admiration fueled his desire to join the service, where he now serves as a C-17 Globemaster III maintenance training instructor at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

As a C-17 MTI, Simpson is responsible for training aircraft maintainers on base in essential tasks and life-saving skills. His contributions to deployment readiness extend beyond training, as he manages the facility, safety protocols, and equipment. His proactive efforts in upgrading the C-17 engine and aircraft trainer and facilitating hangar improvements showcase his commitment to excellence.

During his deployment to Balad Air Base, Iraq, Simpson was a jet engine mechanic, pivotal in keeping F-16 engines operational. Despite the challenges, Simpson's dedication to his duties and the mission was unwavering.

Simpson goes above and beyond his role as a maintenance training instructor by actively participating in the Chaplain's Resiliency program. His involvement includes delivering food to the ASYMCA food pantry, supporting unit events to boost morale, and promoting inclusivity through diverse initiatives.

In his role as a diversity, equity, and inclusion events coordinator, Simpson organized an event with Special Olympics Alaska.

“The Special Olympics Alaska initiative aims at fostering understanding, volunteerism, and inclusivity within the Air Force community, particularly for dependents with special needs,” said Simpson.

Beyond his military duties, Simpson volunteers as a hockey coach, emphasizing character development, teamwork, perseverance, and respect. His commitment to enriching the lives of young players reflects his belief in the power of positive influence.

“Seeing Airmen in maintenance that I supervised thrive is the highlight of my career,” he said. “Some of them have qualifications typically reserved for higher rank and that makes me proud.”

Simpson's dedication has not gone unnoticed, as evidenced by his recognition at the ASYMCA event. Despite the accolades, he remains humble, crediting his supervisors for nominating him for the prestigious award.

“I’m honored and surprised because I did not expect this,” said Simpson. “I’m also grateful for my supervisors who submitted me for this award.”

“I knew Justin was a hockey coach before I knew he was an Airman and long before I became his flight chief,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Derek Lee, 3rd Maintenance Operations section chief. “I saw firsthand the dedication and passion he instills in his teams. He coached against my son’s team and you could tell he knew how to lead from the way his players conducted themselves on and off the ice.”

“Staff Sgt. Simpson has a work ethic like none I’ve ever seen in the Air Force and he’s an inspiration to everyone around him,” said Lee. “I’m proud to have served with him and know he’s got a great future ahead of him.”

Looking ahead, Simpson said he aspires to make the next rank and continue developing the future of the Air Force. His commitment to coaching hockey and supporting the chaplain's resiliency efforts demonstrate his dedication to making a lasting impact on both his military career and the community.

He advises fellow servicemembers to “find joy in making a difference in the community and continue to strive for excellence.”

As he looks toward the future, Simpson wants his passion for service and leadership to leave a lasting imprint on the U.S. Air Force and the Alaska community.