Each year, the Air Force honors their most exceptional with one of the service’s highest accolades: being named as one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. This year, the Airman chosen to represent Air Force District of Washington was one of Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling’s own, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kade Forrester.
Forrester was previously with the 11th Contracting Squadron at JBAB, and was the first enlisted member assigned to 11th CONS when the 11th Wing was re-activated in 2020. During his time here, he wore many hats. At one point in time, he simultaneously held the position of Section Chief for both the Plans and Programs Flight and the Infrastructure Flight.
Now, Forrester is a graduate student at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. This very feat contributes to his exceptionalism, as he was one of the first-ever enlisted personnel selected for this program, which is usually tailored toward officers. Upon completion, he will have a master’s degree in acquisition and contract management.
“It is a hugely gratifying opportunity to learn from these commissioned leaders from the Department of Defense, State Department and Allied Nations,” said Forrester, “but more rewarding to show the abilities of the enlisted corps.”
Forrester’s character, skill and effort to help stand up 11th CONS and the 11th WG certainly showed as he was nominated and won several awards at the Air Force and Major Command levels in the last year. Some of these include the Air Force “Contracting Ninja” award and AFDW Innovator of the Year.
The epitome of who he is as a leader, follower, teammate and Airman, is ultimately recognized with his selection for 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.
“It is truly rewarding to get the reassurance that I did a few things right,” said Forrester. “I am my hardest critic, and always reassess actions that I believe were not my true potential.”
While he might not have achieved everything he was reaching for in 2021, Forrester said he is thankful he was able to make an impact on the mission at JBAB.
“This accomplishment placed my mind somewhat at ease, that even though I didn’t get it all right in 2021, I was doing my part to develop our Airmen, transition JBAB to full operating capability and ready the force for challenges ahead,” said Forrester.
Forrester’s ambition and flame within to succeed were self-lit, but continuously fueled by his leadership and teammates’ encouragement and feedback along the way.
“Many leaders took the time to invest in me and I’m happy to demonstrate that their investment was worthwhile,” said Forrester. “My name was called, but it was my team that got me here.”
The individuals that saw his potential, helped him develop as an Airman, gave him feedback when he made mistakes and helped him to make corrections are the reason he has accomplished many things in his career, he said.
Those that helped him reach this milestone extend beyond the squadron he works in to members from all over JBAB.
“It wasn't just the team in 11th CONS that contributed to this accomplishment,” said Chief Master Sgt. Dean Garrison, 11th CONS senior enlisted leader. “The entire Flock contributed and that is something everyone in the 11th Wing should be extremely proud of.”
The 12 OAY award nomination package submitted for Forrester had many bullets describing how he contributed to the mission at 11th CONS and the 11th Wing, as well as other details highlighting the desired qualities of an outstanding Airman. Garrison says there is more to Forrester than who he is “on the clock.”
“I was more impressed by things that didn’t make it onto his award package,” said Garrison. “He helped his Airmen move apartments, delivered food to those who were sick and always stayed connected with the team during COVID. It really set the stage for a great culture in the unit.”
When Forrester initially joined the military, it was to earn a college degree. After accomplishing that goal, he decided to stay in and make a career out of the Air Force. During this time, he said he has built a family not just of blood, but of teammates as well.
“I would not have been able to accomplish all that I have in my 12 years in the Air Force without the love and support of my wife and the motivation I receive from my daughters,” said Forrester. “I stayed in for the camaraderie and the ability to help others. Seeing my wingmen succeed is the greatest accomplishment of my career.”
Forrester is no longer assigned to JBAB, but his achievements here will make a lasting impact. He helped piece together the puzzle of standing up a squadron and a wing. That puzzle will be completed once the base reaches full operating capability this October.
"I'm extremely proud of what Master Sgt. Forrester has accomplished in being named one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year," said Col. Catherine Logan, commander of Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling and 11th WG. "It speaks volumes about his character and the enormous contributions he made to not only the 11th WG and JBAB, but AFDW and the Air Force as a whole. Although he recently moved from the Flock, once a member of the Flock, always a member of the Flock, and we are so proud to serve with him."
The 11th CONS team is responsible for providing world-class contracting services to the 11th Wing that allows for tenant units to enable effective and efficient mission and installation operations. This means awarding contracts, or budgets, to units and entities in order to complete their mission.
“This award is the accomplishment of the men and women at 11th CONS, The Jedi of JBAB!” said Forrester.