Airman of the Year serves with purpose
By Staff Sgt. Luke Olson, 114th Fighter Wing
/ Published March 11, 2015
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- An Airman who possesses determination and a passion for her career field has been recognized as exceptional in her dedication to the mission of the South Dakota Air National Guard.
Senior Airman Jorrie Hart, 114th Security Forces Squadron installation controller, was selected as the 2014 South Dakota Air National Guard Outstanding Airman of the Year which recognizes superior leadership, job performance, community involvement, and personal achievements.
"My ambitious attitude has always been a part of who I am," said Hart. "If I know that I want something then I have to just go get it."
Hart attributes her assertiveness to observing her father's passion toward his careers in the Army and in sales as she was growing up. She enrolled in forensic science college courses that started two weeks after she graduated from Canton High School in 2009. Law enforcement and serving the public is something Hart is very passionate about. She didn't take time off for the summer because of her determination to accomplish her goals as soon as possible.
Two years into college, Hart enlisted into the South Dakota Air National Guard in the Security Forces career field. She spent her free time at technical school practicing and performing on the drill team and earned the top leadership position as lead black rope before graduation. After returning home from training, she attained her current position with the Minnehaha County Sheriff's Office as an Air Guard security officer. This position required her to attend the Law Enforcement Standards Course in Pierre where she graduated to become a State Certified Law Enforcement Officer.
Hart is motivated to get the most out of her profession which reflects in her expressed desire to take on more training opportunities within the SFS and sheriff's office. Aside from her deputy duties, becoming a valued member on the Security Response Team in her primary role and attaining a bachelor's degree in Forensic Science at Colorado Technical University, Hart has continued to add additional duties.
Her first additional duty was assuming the role of a trainer for the portable explosive trace detector which is designed for checkpoint and transportation security. She is one of only two people in the squadron who have administration control over the explosives and narcotics detection device.
Hart was also selected by the deputies Air Guard supervisor to attend Pressure Point Control Tactics class in Texas. Completing the PPCT class allows her to instruct her colleagues in the SFS and sheriff's office on these skills.
"Becoming an instructor for the PPCT is probably one of my biggest professional accomplishments," said Hart, who stands at 5 feet 4 inches. "I felt challenged given that I'm a smaller female, but if you are put in a situation where you need to defend or protect yourself you can use those skill sets and the techniques will demonstrate themselves."
Hart says the main challenge with working in a male dominated career field is simply having something in common with her male counterparts. This has led her to become more knowledgeable about weapons and interests/hobbies that are popular with her colleagues.
"I can do everything the guys can as far as training and my designated marksman selection shows I can sometimes do it better," said Hart.
Her shooting scores are some of the best in the squadron and a skill which gives her much pride. She was selected, along with two others, for having the highest qualification scores throughout the squadron. With this selection she acquired the Advanced Combat Optical Gun-sight device on her rifle which is a compact riflescope for use in bright to low/no light and it enables her to qualify yearly on long range shots up to 600 yards.
"All these little things that I've done have been stepping stones on my path to where I hope to be someday," said Hart. "To me, I can't do it fast enough because it's just something that I enjoy so much and it doesn't seem like work when you enjoy it so much."
Hart says her personal goals are very professionally orientated. In the immediate future, Hart hopes to "get out on the street" with a local police department and get more experience with the public. She also wants to continue gaining more hands on experience by assuming more instructor titles and hopes to build on it and ultimately become a detective.
"When I think about what I want to do with my life, I just want to be able to go to work and at the end of the day feel like I've made a difference in somebody's life or did something good," said Hart.
Hart has made a point to put her best foot forward in the community and the unit and her direct leadership took notice prompting her nomination for the 2014 Outstanding Airman of the Year.
"When I was selected as Airman of the Year I thought it was a huge honor," said Hart. "To be chosen to represent not only our squadron but then to actually win it and represent the base was a very proud moment for me."
Her AOY package now moves on to the national level to compete against her peers to become one of the final 12 AOY. The Air Force Association honors the final 12 Outstanding Airmen at its annual convention in Washington, D.C. and if chosen they would join the ranks of the 763 named Outstanding Airmen of the Year since the program's inception in 1956.