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Embodying excellence: an Airman’s service to community

By Senior Airman Tristan Biese 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs


The U.S. Air Force core value of excellence in all we do explains that Airmen must strive for continual self-improvement and in doing so, propel the Air Force to achieve greater accomplishments for not only themselves, but their community as well.

Senior Airman Charles Essel expresses this through the time he spends helping his community. Whether it’s volunteering at the USO, bringing meals to people through Meals on Wheels, organizing blood drives or helping at juvenile centers, Essel does his best to help people in need.

“I always want to see people happy,” Essel said. “During my free time I’ll go out to the community and try to do something, either during my lunch time, weekends or holidays. I’m trying to do something that at the end of the day is going to impact someone's life.”

Originally from Ghana, Essel moved to New York in 2010 with the idea of going to school and earning a degree in business administration with a concentration in healthcare management.

“When I got here I was working in a Dollar Tree store in the Bronx and at the same time I was going to school,” Essel said. “It was kind of hard. So, when I finished my associate’s degree I decided to look into the military.”

Once he enlisted and graduated basic training, Essel went to technical training to become a surgical technician.

“When I went into phase two [of technical school] for the hands-on training, I realized that I wasn't good with blood,” Essel said. “The first time I went into the operation room – I threw up.”

Even though he wasn’t able to finish technical training as a surgical technician, he did go on to become a contract service manager in the medical field, later, coming to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, and joining the 633rd Medical Support Squadron.

“Within the medical field not everybody will [directly deal] with patients,” Essel said. “We have people behind the scenes who get the job done. When I looked into my [current] job, I knew that I wouldn’t [directly] interact with patients, but my impact would still be great.”

Between finishing his doctorates, spending time with family and being an Airman, Essel still manages to make time to help in the community.

Essel spent more than 70 hours of his own time this year volunteering throughout the community, winning him the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce 2019 Military Citizen of the Year for the Air Force.

The award has been presented annually since 1955 to recognize the military citizen who has made the most significant contribution of community service in the area.  The VPCC names one local representative, E-6 and below from each branch of the military, who have demonstrated active participation in off-duty community activities, as well as exceeding military standards.

“It's a passion of helping people,” Essel said. “I don't just like to volunteer to volunteer. I look at what I'm going to do and what is the impact on people? To me, it's all about the people.”

Showing true excellence in all we do, Essel took his own time to help people not for an award but to better his community.

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