Climbing the ranks of leadership is the goal of all service men and women. That came true for 25 year-old U.S. Air Force airman and Mount Pleasant native Jerrod Earl Collier. In December he received a promotion in his wing status from Airman First Class to Senior Airman, the fourth enlisted (E-4) rank in the United States Air Force.
The Air Force promotes an Airman First Class (A1C) to Senior Airman (SrA) after 36 months time in service and 20 months time in grade, or 28 months TIG, whichever occurs first. Senior Airmen are expected to be technically proficient and begin to develop leadership skills, and may be expected to supervise an airman of lesser rank.
Deciding factors that the Air Force weighs when promoting an airman from first class to senior include: leadership potential, physical training scores, recommendations and educational progress. According to Collier, his resume contained all of the above.
Collier flew the nest at a young age. His career took off and has landed him in many different countries and states. He is currently serving active duty at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Tex.
During his early childhood Collier moved around a lot. The "military brat" is following in the footsteps of those who served before him. He has moved around from Idaho to Arkansas and now he has returned home to South Carolina as his final destination.
Collier claims that he was initially attracted to the Air Force as a means to start a career and receive benefits to help guide his future. "The Air Force has been a fun, hard and an exciting experience," he said. He's enjoyed seeing different types of people, learning more about them and getting out and exploring modern day society away from his normal surroundings.
He credits the Air Force for providing him the life skills that have helped him ascend to this next step in his career. For him it's special to be a part of a large organization with a rich and promising history, he said.
When asked to recall a memory that has stuck with him since joining the service, Collier reminisced back to his first night of basic training that burns clearly in the back of his mind. "The voice of the MTI (Military Training Instructor) frightened everyone but me," Collier remembered.
Collier admits that one of toughest hardships he faces day in and day out is the fact that he's on duty 24/7-365 days a year. "It tells me that when ever the Air Force needs me, they will find me."
He knows that the Air Force is a full-time relationship and at times it's difficult to balance his service to his country and his commitment to loved ones at home.
For Collier, when asked what it means to serve his country as a member of the Air Force, he replied, "Whether it is in war, peace, or natural disaster, it's about protecting the interest of the American people." He noted that upholding and defending The Constitution of the United States of America is of utmost importance.
When reflecting upon the days of his career to this point, Collier says he wouldn't change a thing in his pursuit to join the Air Force, feeling as if he's left no stone unturned. "Nothing at all. I view my current career as a painting. Both the good and bad times painted together have made a wonderful masterpiece."
For those curious or interested in joining the Air Force, Collier forewarns about the physical demands with a tidbit of advice: "Get in shape. The initial weeks will test your strength and endurance. Have self-discipline. You will last longer with this mindset."
Lastly, Collier murmured, "remember why you joined." He said this final piece of advice has resonated with him the most, fueling him to get through long days and long nights when he is a time zone away from his strongest support system - his family.