59th Airman Named Outstanding Airman of the Year

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas --

On the fence about whether to accept a partial academic scholarship to College of Charleston, now Senior Airman Nicole Moore opted to forgo the poised student loan burden to become the first known member of her family to serve her country in uniform.

Listing benefits such as travel, education and the wide variety of experiences available in the Air Force, the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, native went to the local recruiter, and started her journey as an Airman.

Originally drawn toward being a paralegal, Moore arrived at Basic Military Training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland enlisted as a medic. Staying in San Antonio through technical training and first duty assignment, Moore currently works in the 59th Medical Wing’s urgent care department.

Shortly after starting her Air Force career at the 59th MDW, Moore attended the medical wing’s Gateway Academy. The center provides instruction on innovative problem solving techniques, inspires people to challenge the status quo, and teaches leadership skills that foster empowerment, trust, and respect.

“During my time in the internal medicine clinic, I was able to take what I learned in the Gateway and improve an injection process for pneumonia in elderly patients,” she said. “Through the process improvement adjustments, we saved over $70,000. That sort of jumpstarted my success story, I guess.”

The budding 59th MDW star was recognized as the wing’s Airman of the Quarter, shortly before taking her talents overseas for her first deployment.  Moore continued to excel in Southwest Asia, both as a deployed medic and being selected to serve as the Command Chief’s executive assistant for part of her tour.

“The best experience of my career so far, by far, was my deployment,” she said. “Not that you want to see trauma, but being able to help in desperate situations was just a different experience. There were blast injuries, gunshot wounds, and I was able to really use my training in a hands-on environment.”

In a defining moment during Moore’s deployment, the medic was preparing for another day at her medical facility when she heard a sound she will never forget.

“On 12 November, we had a suicide attack on base. I got up that morning like any other day, just getting dressed in the bathroom, doing my hair, and then boom,” she said. “All these alarms started going off and we went to the hospital as all these patients started rushing in screaming, ‘ground attack!’ We were trying to do patient care while geared up with weapons, and everything was just very chaotic. Then they had people on base shooting, while we were trying to save lives and you just do whatever you have to at the moment. It sounds like it was a terrible experience, but I can’t wait to go back and deploy again.”

Moore shifted from internal medicine to the urgent care unit after returning to San Antonio. She credits her deployment experience for her preparation for daily emergency response.

Moore’s hard work and dedication to her unit’s success through the process improvement, wing award, deployment and other accolades, she was chosen as one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2017. 

An Air Force selection board at the Air Force Personnel Center considered 36 nominees who represented major commands, direct reporting units, field operating agencies and Headquarters Air Force. The board selected the final 12 Airmen based on superior leadership, job performance and personal achievements.

“I honestly don’t feel like I deserved all that,” Moore said. “So many Airmen work so hard every day, many of which go unnoticed. Really, I really feel blessed for having great leadership putting in packages for me.”

Moore will now attend various events, representing the Air Force and her 59th MDW family, throughout the next year.

“This is all really crazy,” she said. “I’m just a country girl, Daddy’s girl, from South Carolina who likes to be outside riding dirt bikes, four-wheelers and fishing. But, I’m just very thankful. This is great.”