Breaking down the sample, Citizen Airmen

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt Daniel Reed
  • 173FW

The call to serve one’s country is different for each of us, Airman 1st Class Kellie Marshall chose to serve by joining the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls, Oregon as a citizen Airman.

“I always wanted to serve since my brother joined back in 2007,” she said. “I realized I didn’t want to look back saying: ‘I wish I had … Instead, I wanted to have a legacy of pursuing a dream and making it a reality.”

Joining the Oregon Air National Guard as a drill-status Guardsman, commonly referred to as a “traditional” guardsman, allowed her to serve her state during times of activation and monthly drill weekends while maintaining her civilian career. Marshall enlisted in 2020 as a non-destructive inspection specialist and continues to work as an office manager and billing specialist for a local chiropractic office.

She says joining the Air National Guard is a daily reminder of the growth and development it takes to balance her multiple roles: Airman, mother, wife, office manager, and billing specialist.

“The military has helped me improve physically and mentally,” said Marshall. “It’s given me more discipline and strength in my personal life and careers.”

Marshall says she is learning from her fellow Airmen in NDI, “I have continually watched and heard of fellow Airmen accomplishing degrees and improving their knowledge on their current job or one they are working towards, it’s contagious.” 

Marshall prioritizes her family and says her decision to join the military was not hers alone, but all of them.

“My husband and kids have a huge impact on my life decisions, I am all about family and want to help provide the best life I can for them,” said Marshall.  “I wouldn’t be where I am in military and civilian life if it wasn’t for their love and support.”

Her military journey, a path that began at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, has helped instill an Air Force cultural imperative something every Airman has heard from day one; “Attention to Detail”. She says a surprising thing she’s learned along the way is that the small details add up to the “big picture”.

“Her attention to detail has been particularly impressive,” said Tech. Sgt. Tylor Strop, her immediate supervisor. “She is self-motivated and does not require constant oversight to complete tasks presented to her.”

Those tasks are part of her growing skillset and include magnetic particle inspections and oil analysis on aircraft systems, which are vital to the longstanding health of the F-15C Eagle fleet at Kingsley Field.

Magnetic particle inspection uses a magnetic field to detect surface, and shallow subsurface defects in ferrous metals and can prevent potential failure of an aircraft part.

Spectrometric oil analysis tests for the presence of specific metals to determine if the systems using the oil are healthy. It’s all part of the Joint Oil Analysis Program, searching for unusual concentrations of certain metals in the fluid sample to find abnormal wear before it becomes a problem. 

Marshall says her service as an Oregon Guardsman has helped her develop a better sense of self.  “The military has made me not second guess myself or my abilities,” she said. “We are capable of so much more then we generally give ourselves credit for.”

Choosing to serve means more demands on a person, Marshall has adapted to those, and her family helps as well.

In her civilian life she normally wakes her children and helps get them ready for school before leaving for work, however on drill weekends or other military service days, she is out the door before her household is awake. Her oldest daughter steps up and makes sure her other children are taken care of.

“There are a lot of sacrifices with committing to military life,” said Marshall. “My biggest hope for my family is seeing the sacrifices we’ve made and growing up with the same work ethic and commitment they witnessed from their parents.”

Although that will play out in the years to come, she characterizes the journey up until now saying, “I chased a dream and came back with a new perspective on family, life, dedication, and respect for others.”