Perspectives from 20 years in AMMO

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Natalie Huntington
  • 9th Munitions Squadron

I joined the Air Force in October 2003, and have been an AMMO troop for over 20 years now. I’ve have had assignments to Barksdale Air Force Base, Osan Air Base twice, Seymour Johnson, and then 9 years at Nellis AFB before getting picked up to be an instructor at Beale AFB for the 9th Munitions Squadron (9 MUNS) Air Force Combat Ammunition Center (AFCOMAC) course.

I’m currently the Full Time Additional Duty First Sergeant and Commander Support Staff Section Chief for 9 MUNS. Being a woman in a male dominated career field has not been easy, but I can say with confidence, I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything.

When I first joined in 2003, I wanted to be an Aerial Gunner, but my recruiter said that job wasn’t open to females. I found out later that it had just opened to woman that year.

At the beginning of my career, it was rare to see women with higher rank or leadership positions. As a single mother in the Air Force, I have seen a lot of change in how we treat not only women, but mothers too. I was told early on in my career “the Air Force didn’t issue you a child”. It took me a long time to realize that it wasn’t the Air Force that felt that way, but more the individual who said it.

I always felt like I had to prove myself to everyone. I had to prove that I could do the maintenance side of the job just as well as any of the guys could, or I would end up in an office job by default. I was determined that I wasn’t going to need a guy to lift a full can of 20MM ammunition onto the table for me. Today, my back wishes I had just let them do it for me.

In 2013, I was deployed to Ali Al Salem, Kuwait, and my brother was a Warrant Officer in the Coast Guard working Investigative Services. He happened to be deployed to Bahrain at the same time I was in Kuwait. He made a trip to come visit me, along with his Command Chief, and that’s how I got to have my brother re-enlist me for another 4 years.

Another highlight was on my return from Kuwait, when I got to surprise my daughter at her soccer game. She talked to me on the phone that morning, and I told her I was sorry I wasn’t going to be home for her last game of the season. I had missed the entire season, but little did she know I was sitting in a Denny’s parking lot down the street. I watched the game from a distance and was at the end of the parent’s tunnel waiting to surprise her after the game.

Today, I am 1 of 3 female Senior Non-Commissioned Officers in my unit along with our Career Field Manager who is an accomplished Chief Master Sergeant. To see women succeeding in AMMO and across the Air Force, motivates me to keep pushing and teaching the next generation. After 20 years of working in AMMO, I have gained countless “brothers” and “sisters”. I love my current job as the First Sergeant because my passion is taking care of Airmen.

Being able to help shape the future of AMMO through the AFCOMAC Course and by taking care of the Airmen here at Beale is the best job I have had in 20 years.