Education and training chief reflects on her career

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Sharlotte Epps
  • 507th Air Refueling Wing
On the occasion of her retirement, Chief Master Sgt. Sharlotte Epps answered a few questions about her career, her future plans, and the unusual way she once earned an incentive flight.

Why did you enlist?
  I came to work for the 507th as a civilian employee in Customer Service in 1975. I worked here a little over a year and liked what I observed in the unit. I enjoyed feeling the sense of family and pride that was always evident. Everyone always worked together as a team. I decided that I wanted to be a part of that and a member of the military so I enlisted on February 18, 1977.

Who influenced you to enlist? To stay enlisted? To become a Chief?
  I made the decision to enlist on my own. The personnel I worked with in the consolidated base personnel office were mostly ARTs and were very supportive about my enlisting in the Air Force Reserve. Chief Master Sergeant Doris Kitze was my mentor for many years and she motivated me to make her job as the Personnel Superintendent as my goal.
  I also decided back then that I wanted to be a Chief someday just like Chief Kitze. I did get her job when she retired and was promoted to Senior Master Sergeant.

Why the Reserve?
  I was already working here as a civilian and knew everyone and felt comfortable. I have always been an Okie so I did not have to leave home to be in this unit and it also gave me the chance to do a little travelling, which I had never done before.

What was your favorite or most interesting or memorable assignment?
  I enjoyed my annual tours that I was able to do overseas the most. They gave me chances to see other parts of the world and other cultures.
  My most memorable moment would be my incentive flight in an F-105 over the beautiful countryside of Italy. I had to work 14 hours straight of KP duty in the dining hall for that flight.

What did you want to do when you enlisted (job-wise)?
  I was only interested in working in the personnel career field since I already had experience in that area. I really enjoyed meeting new people and taking care of our customers.

Why did you pick the education/training field?
  After twenty years in the personnel career field, I was asked if I would be interested in the education and training superintendent position; I felt it was a good time to try something different. I was promoted to Chief Master Sergeant in this position under the Promotion Enhancement Program.
  I will finish my career with 13 years in this position. It has also been a fulfilling career field because I still get to take care of customers.

What advice can you give to anyone who aspires to succeed in the Reserve?
  Find out about your unit and the people in it and how everything works. A person needs to take responsibility for his own career because it is more important to them than it is to someone else.
  Find out all of the promotion eligibility requirements to progress from one rank to another.
  Complete the required PME right away so you will be ready for that next promotion. Do not let the lack of PME cost you a promotion.
  Of course, pass your Fit-to-Fight test. Get involved in unit and Wing activities and be a team player.
  Last but not least, complete your Community College of the Air Force Degree even though you may already have a civilian college degree.

What will you miss about being enlisted? About the 507th?
  For me, it is very hard to leave something that has been a big part of my life for so many years. I will miss wearing the Air Force uniform and feeling that I am part of something worthwhile. The uniform is a reminder to me of what has been sacrificed for us to be able to live here today in a free country. It embarrasses me a little, but at the same time, it makes me feel good when total strangers come up to me and say, "Thank you for your service".
  I will miss the 507th because this is where I have spent my entire military career. I have observed and transitioned through many personnel and aircraft changes. The 507th will always be a part of me and who I am.

What are you looking forward to in retirement?
  First, I want to sit back and relax and wake up without an alarm clock. I just finished my bachelor of science degree in July, so that means I will have even more free time.
  I will have the time now to get back to the most important things in life, which are to find my place in God's service and spend more time with my husband and family especially my grandchildren. Of course, we are hoping to travel more now, since my calendar will be empty.