VIP - A Well-Rounded Airman

We talk to Staff Sgt Nicholas C Billow in this issue.

What has been your most exhilarating experience while enlisted?

Many exciting things have happened to me throughout my career, but nothing has compared to being selected as the No. 4 (note: No.4 Thunderbird F-16 — every Thunderbird F-16 wears a position tail mark) Assistant Crew Chief. Not only do I get the opportunity to represent the entire squadron on the showline, I get to represent the 530,000 men and women in the Air Force that are out on the front lines doing their job to defend this country that don't get to be seen or heard. I am honored to represent them to the American public.

How has your involvement with the Thunderbirds prepared you for the future?

Being in the AGE career field, we are sometimes a bit separate from the flightline operations. This squadron lets me see a lot about the flightline that I have not had the chance to see before. I think I will be able to take a lot from what I have learned for when I make master sergeant or even technical sergeant and perform functions such as quality assurance or production superintendent.

What major awards/decorations have you received?

I was Airman of the Quarter for the 9th MXS at Beale. I was Airman of the month for the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, which prepared me to win Airman of the Quarter for the Squadron and the 363rd Expeditionary Maintenance Group. I have one achievement medal and Air Force Good Conduct with one Oak leaf.

If not in AGE where would you be?

I plan on staying in the AGE field but if I had to choose another job I would say F-16 crew chief. I only say this because of my experience here on the Thunderbirds. I love being a mechanic and I think I would enjoy working on planes as well.

What are some major trends you have seen developing over the past 20-30 years?

I have not personally seen a lot of changes. I know that a lot of shops are going to be manned by civilians and that reduces the opportunity to work at select bases but there are a lot of great assignments out there.

What golden nuggets of wisdom would you like to pass on to our readers?

I would suggest to them that they pursue off-duty education. I am currently taking online classes through the University of Phoenix and I feel that education is the key to a successful career.

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