Boom operator shows full circle of mentorship

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Boom operators on KC-135 Stratotankers are charged with the responsibility to prepare the jets as well as pump thousands of pounds of fuel to any capable aircraft, while only feet away from colliding into each other.

Staff Sgt. Kevin Satberry, 351st Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, not only balances the high pressures of his job, but also takes the time to mentor young Airmen in his squadron.

“At one point I was really struggling financially, I had just flown my entire family out to England and was having trouble stabilizing afterwards,” said Senior Airman Malachai Carpenter-Epps, 351st ARS boom operator. “One day Staff Sgt. Satberry took me out grocery shopping. I never asked him to take me, I didn’t even tell him how badly I was struggling. As my supervisor at the time, he knew what I was going through, he paid attention and he cared.”

Satberry tries to lead in the best approach he knows, with the best technique he was taught.

“I try to lead in the methods I’ve always wanted to be led. It’s really simple, I try to set people up for success in the best ways I know how,” Satberry said.

The Air Force describes mentorship as a type of professional relationship in which a person with greater experience and wisdom guides another person to develop both personally and professionally. This relationship helps achieve mission success and motivates Airmen to achieve their goals. This relationship is embodied throughout the Bloody Hundredth, and the 351st ARS leadership show how they pay it forward for their Airmen.

“As a superintendent one of my main jobs is to be a mentor,” said Senior Master Sgt. Lee Adkins, 351st ARS superintendent. “We have a lot of amazing people in our squadron, all awesome examples of leaders and mentors from top to bottom. We as senior leaders see the potential and have the opportunity to help make it into a reality.”

One of the top of priorities for the Bloody Hundredth is Airmen. From officer to enlisted, mentorship is a prime way of encouraging the growth and safety of the Airmen.

“When I was stationed at Fairchild (Air Force Base, Washington) as a young Airman, we were put in leadership positions right away and that’s really where I honed my leadership skills,” Satberry said. “Adkins was a big help back then and even still now. We were stationed together at Fairchild for almost four years, and as a young Airman I struggled. I struggled to adapt, I struggled with my personal life, and I had a hard few years. Had it not been for Adkins and others like him around pushing me when I needed to be pushed, paying attention and correcting me when I needed it; I would have been fired a long time ago. Had I not had the mentors I had, I wouldn’t be in the military.”

Adkins has seen Satberry grow professionally and personally throughout his career as an Airman.

“To be able to see Satberry grow personally and be a part of his growth from an Airman at Fairchild to an NCO over here has been a real privilege,” Adkins said. “I’ve seen him struggle throughout his career, and to see him transitioning into being someone who is looked up to is awesome. I hope I’ve been a good example of a mentor.”

Satberry has taken the experience he’s had and paid it forward in the best way he knows how.

“If it had not been for Satberry, l would not be in the military,” Carpenter-Epps said. “I would not have been able to pick myself up to be better, and I’m really grateful for him; he’s shown me how to care for my Airmen when I become a supervisor.”