Suffolk serviceman named among America's top 12 airmen
- Credit: 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
An American airman based in Suffolk has been named as one of the United States' 12 outstanding airmen of the year.
Tech sergeant Justin Bennett, flight chief of the 48th Fighter Wing Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, was selected as one of his country's finest airmen for 2021.
The New York-born airman was one of 36 across the United States Airforce to be considered for the accolade, having been recognised for his superior leadership and job performance.
Tech Sgt Bennett joined the air force after leaving high school in Florida, quickly rising through the ranks to staff sergeant before becoming a master sergeant select.
He will now meet vice president Kamala Harris at the 75th anniversary of the Air Force Association with his fellow winners in September.
“I had always dreamed about being one of the 12 outstanding airmen,” he said. “However, I never imagined it actually happening.
"I joined the Air Force for opportunity and a chance to serve my country.
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“I grew up in a single-parent household. My father passed away when I was a child and that's when my four sisters, my mom and I all moved to Florida.
“It took a lot of sacrifice and time management to get to where I am now.
"I wake up at 2am to get in a good workout, then work on my master’s degree before starting my work day and finally going home and allotting time to spend with my family.”
Tech Sgt Bennett added his advice to other airmen is that they can achieve anything they set their mind to – and to strive for every goal they set.
Alex Higdon, 48th Security Forces Squadron anti-terrorism officer chief, was full of praise for the Tech Sgt.
He said: "He's the embodiment of success professionally, and he also grows airmen personally and professionally, by helping them out in terms of their personal life.
"He's the go to guy if you want to get an answer, and get it quickly. He's supremely driven by whatever goal he wants to accomplish.
“He's obtained his master's degree in a little under a year and a half and he's grown professionally.
"He's become a standout candidate who's not afraid to have candid discussions with leadership, as well as mentor young Airmen confidently."