Junior Officer of the Year knows how to take care of people

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Sasha Feliciano
  • 103rd Airlift Wing, Public Affairs
Once each year, 103rd Airlift Wing members, friends and family gather to honor those who have distinguished themselves from their peers in the unit. Capt. Jessica Herndon was shocked and humbled when she learned she had been selected to receive the Connecticut Air National Guard Junior Officer of the Year award for 2014.
     "Something like this award--it surprised me," she said about learning that she had been selected. The captain spoke highly of her Airmen, saying, "It's due to them you know, due to them nominating me and basically my Airmen making me look good."
     As a high school graduate with a vague sense of direction for her future, Herndon knew one thing for sure. "I was looking for an opportunity where I could go to school, serve my country--things you always want to do. You want to serve a higher purpose," she said. "And the National Guard kind of put that all together."
     Capt. Herndon began her military career in the 103rd Communications Flight as a cyber transport specialist. Herndon originally planned to separate after her initial six-year enlistment. She found her experiences in those years to be so rewarding that she decided to take another look at what the Air National Guard had to offer. "I had a really great time with comm group," she said.

As a registered nurse for a community hospital and the Connecticut Department of Corrections, Herndon chose to take her military career in a similar direction. In 2011, she applied for and was offered a commissioning opportunity with the 103rd Medical Group.

"Coming over from enlisted to officer... that's nerve wrecking, period," said Herndon. "But the med group was really welcoming."  Herndon performs health administrative services as the MICT manager and the Officer in Charge for the group's logistics section. She and her two troops focus heavily on the logistics aspect of the job, which she enjoys. She said that staying organized is critical to ordering medical equipment and supplies for the medical group. Their administrative efforts even contribute to the unit's flying mission.

"We also supply first aid kits for the C-130 and make sure they have what they need," she said.

It's clear that the members of the medical group hold Capt. Herndon in high regard, proven by her recent award. Herndon expressed similar sentiments when talking about her unit. "We claimed top spots...I think we're doing pretty well," she said with a smile in regards to her fellow award winners. She spoke of how her organization was "fostering a nurturing environment to help you grow" and how important she found it to emulate that same environment for her Airmen.

"Seeing everybody interact together--it motivates you. You just want to do the best you can to help them," she said. "They're absolutely everything. If I need something or even if I kind of [give them something] last minute," said Herndon referring to her Airmen and their willingness to get the job done. She said she can rely on her Airmen to rise to any occasion, often responding to her, "Oh yeah, we'll get it done. We'll get it done."