JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va --
Recently, one of the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing’s exceptional Airmen, U. S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Melissa A. Beam, was recognized as one of the Air Force’s 2018 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year in the senior noncommissioned officer category.
This award recognizes 12 enlisted Airmen for exceptional job performance in their primary duty, and who epitomize the whole Airman concept across three categories: Airman, noncommissioned officer and senior NCO.
When selected for the award, Beam was the flight chief of the Distributed Ground System-1 Analysis and Reporting Team, 497th Operations Support Squadron, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. Her accomplishments include leading 124 Airmen to support Operation Inherent Resolve, delivering ISR capabilities to five combative commanders. She forged an intelligence mobile training team by organizing 17 members to train 225 Airmen. This established the wing’s standard and enabled two squadrons to support Area of Responsibility combined operations.
Beam said she did not earn this recognition alone, but as part of her team.
“It feels absolutely amazing to have my team's work highlighted at the highest level possible for an annual award,” Beam said. “My team of Airmen were rock stars who continuously took the fight to ISIS in Iraq and Syria.”
“The best part of my job, and flight,” she said, “was not only the Airmen, but the daily impact they had on the battlespace. The decisions the junior Airmen made truly saved lives and made the jobs of the ‘boots on the ground’ that much easier.”
An important part of having great Airmen, Beam said, is letting them know you care.
“I have learned throughout my 20-year career that when you genuinely care about your Airmen, they see that and want to perform their best for you,” she said.
Beam entered the Air Force in May 1998 with several goals in mind.
“I initially joined the Air Force for a few reasons,” she said. “One was to leave the small town I grew-up in, and the other was the education benefits, as I could not afford college on my own.”
The senior master sergeant has held a myriad of positions in the Air force at the squadron, group, wing and Numbered Air Force levels, and is now stationed at Air Combat Command. Throughout her career, she has had assignments in Hawaii, Nebraska, South Korea, Texas and Virginia, and has deployed twice in support of Operation Southern Watch.
In 2017, Beam was recognized at the group level for the Lance P. Sijan awards program, was a two time squadron SNCO of the quarter, and led her flight to win three squadron team awards, a group team of the quarter award and a group team of the year award.
“Senior Master Sgt. Beam is a tremendous Airman, and I am extremely grateful that I've had the opportunity to have her as a teammate,” said Capt. Zebulon Henderson, her supervisor during the award period. “She executed an incredibly challenging and dynamic mission with poise, enthusiasm and humility, and was a fierce advocate and mentor for the 130 plus Total Force Airmen she led every day. Her energy and enthusiasm is contagious, and I sincerely believe that I am a better Airman and person for having served with Senior Master Sgt. Beam.”