167th Airlift Wing Airman Spotlight June 2023

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  • 167th Airlift Wing

Senior Airman Steven Heaton is an emergency management specialist for the 167th Civil Engineering Squadron and the 167th Airlift Wing Airman Spotlight for the 167th Airlift Wing.

As an emergency management craftsman, Heaton is responsible for response and recovery operations for any natural or man-made disaster. He develops emergency response plans and ensures wing members are trained to meet mission needs and to minimize casualties and damage in the event of a disaster situation.

“Senior Airman Steven Heaton is a high achieving and steadfast Airman. He works hard every day completing high level tasks that not only impact him and his shop but also the Wing preparing for current and future operations,” said Master Sgt. Ryan Hodges, 167th Emergency Management Flight superintendent. “Heaton delivers excellent and positive products ensuring operations progress and exceed all requirements. Senior Airman Heaton is a proud member of our unit and he has positivity for everyone he encounters and every project he completes.”

Hometown:  Poway, California 

Job Title:  Emergency Management Craftsman

How long have you served in the unit?  It will be three years this July

How does your job support the 167th’s mission?  Emergency Management (EM) is a Wing program that is involved in many aspects of readiness for the 167th.  Most members know us as the flight that handles the CBRN Defense course, but our role goes way beyond that. EM is responsible for emergency response, command and control training (Disaster Response Force), war/disaster exercises, CWDE sizing, regional emergency coordination, shelter-in-place programs, and the Installation’s Emergency Management Plan 10-2 document, to name a few.

Civilian job:  I’ve had the privilege of serving the 167th in a temp tech capacity for the last year and half. Prior to my time here, I was a business owner, project manager in the automotive industry, and an instructor for extracurricular leadership & communication programs for high school students.

Education:  I am four classes away from accomplishing my bachelor’s in Disaster and Emergency Management and plan on attaining a master’s degree in the same field. Joining the military and pursuing my degree happened later in life, but I’m grateful for all the benefits offered through the Air Force, our State, and the 167th in marking this goal off my bucket list.

Hobbies:  Anytime I can be outside doing something active, it’s a good day. Usually it is hiking, running, fishing, and playing tag with my kids.

Goals:  Ideally, I’d continue to grow my skillset and serve the Wing in EM. I’ve also considered pursuing an officer role, after attaining my degree.

I am proudest of:  the opportunity to represent our Wing and the EM flight every day. I get a sense of pride knowing that I am part of a larger mission and it is the collaboration of our members that makes us strong.

People may be surprised to know this about me:  Since the age of fifteen, I’ve performed improvisation comedy. At one time it was a career, but now it’s just fun thing I do when I’m not working. So, unlike stand-up, there is no script or rehearsed bits. It’s just your fellow performers, an audience, and their suggestions. Through improv, I’ve met lifelong friends, toured the country, and had the opportunity to audition for Second City Chicago. With the stress and chaos of an unscripted show, I guess Emergency Management was the next logical step, right?

The most exciting thing I’ve done in the military is:  As part of the EM tech school in Ft. Leonard, Missouri I was able to participate in MOPP 4 training while being surrounded by VX and Sarin gas.

One/Some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned throughout my career:  “Be the thermostat not the thermometer”. Anyone can tell you the current situation. Leaders have the same information but make adjustments and work with others to make it better.  You have the ability to positively impact your situation every day.

My advice to the newest Airmen in the Wing:  Each UTA, try to remind yourself “why” you joined. Take advantage of the opportunities around you in order to grow. Understand the obstacles you face but ask questions, be involved, and work toward solutions.

The best thing about working with my team is:  The EM flight recognizes the role we serve, is dedicated toward improvement, and desires to benefit the Wing’s readiness. I really value the work ethic and the diverse skill set of our flight.