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For his efforts in leading the airmen who keep aircrew flight equipment in tiptop shape, Master Sgt. Darnell Burton recently snagged the top NCO award for his career field in all of the Air Force. Burton is with the 352nd Operations Support Squadron.

For his efforts in leading the airmen who keep aircrew flight equipment in tiptop shape, Master Sgt. Darnell Burton recently snagged the top NCO award for his career field in all of the Air Force. Burton is with the 352nd Operations Support Squadron. (Geoff Ziezulewicz / S&S)

MASTER SGT. DARNELL BURTON

Airman honored for leadership in work on lifesaving equipment

Master Sgt. Darnell Burton’s job has true life-and-death consequences. Sure, many folks in the military can say that, but as aircrew flight equipment superintendent for the 352nd Special Operations Group, he and his airmen make sure all safety equipment on board is good to go. No one wants to see an aircrew have to use parachutes or other safety equipment. But if they do, Burton will make sure it’s ready.

For his efforts, the Chicago native recently was named the 2007 Air Force senior noncommissioned officer for the aircrew flight equipment career field.

So, when did you find out you won the award?

I found out late June that I was selected. It was a shock to me, a very big shock. I’ve never won an Air Force-level award. Coming here and becoming superintendent, the transition, especially to special ops, that was different.

What do you get with this distinction, a plaque or something?

There’s an award. It’s a big eagle or something like that. It’s a pretty big award they give out, along with the recognition. There’s a lot of job opportunities that open up for you in the career field with acknowledgement of your abilities. For me the biggest thing was I was able to win this and represent special ops. We’ve kind of been the unsung heroes with a lot of different things, because we’re quieter with how we do our business. But that’s probably the biggest joy I get, being able to represent my command.

What did you think when you found out?

It didn’t really register. But getting more information about it and finding out the significance of winning an Air Force-level award, I thought ‘Cool, we got highlighted.’

What’s the hardest part of your job that people might not realize?

Diversity. We have a lot of moving parts. No one day is like the next. I think that’s the hardest part of the job, being able to master the system. Parachutes, lifesaving equipment, anything any aircrew member or operator uses once they’re in a survival situation, that’s what we work on. Me winning this award is more of a credit to the people who work for me. I have a lot of great people.


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