First generation college grad honored to serve

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Julia Santiago
  • 108th Wing

As an African American in the New Jersey Air National Guard, Staff Sgt. Chinyelu Umeokolo, a flight and operational medical technician from the 108th Medical Group, follows in a long line of African American service members. Umeokolo has served in the 108th Wing N.J. ANG for over five years.

“I am proud of all my achievements, both big and small,” said Umeokolo. “I recently graduated college, and as a first generation graduate, it really means a lot to me. I want to continue to learn and be the best I can be at my job.”

“I feel absolutely honored to be here today to continue the legacy that they [African Americans] laid down for us,” said Umeokolo.

According to the Military Personnel Data System, in 2016, African Americans in the ANG consisted of 9 percent enlisted Airmen and 4 percent officers.

 “From the African Americans that served in World War I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, etc., they all paved the way for myself and my fellow African Americans in the military,” said Umeokolo. “Despite the challenges they were faced with, and continue to face, they served with honor and fought to earn respect from service members and the American public in general. The legacy of patriotism and valor they left behind is not something I or other African Americans in service take for granted.”

“Since becoming part of the 108th Medical Group, I love the collaborative spirit of the unit,” said Umeokolo. “It creates a family environment where everyone shares the same vision and is dedicated to the mission and getting the job done.”

The Guard makeup is two-fold.

Established as a separate reserve component of the U.S. Air Force in Sept. 18, 1947, the Air National Guard has both a federal and state mission. The dual mission, a provision of the U. S. Constitution, results in each guardsman holding membership in the National Guard of his or her state and in the National Guard of the United States.

"When the opportunity to be part of the world’s greatest military came my way, I had to jump on it,” said Umeokolo. “I love being of service to people. It gives me joy anytime I help a patient and leave them with a smile on their face. Knowing that you left a positive impact on someone, makes you want to do more. I want to add value and continue to grow with the unit, and wing as a whole.”

 As a medical technician, Umeokolo has a very broad scope of responsibility in the military treatment facility. Nursing services perform portions of medical treatment, diagnostic, and therapeutic procedures for military members and their beneficiaries, to include flyers and special operational duty personnel. They support activities in patient care situations, to include contingency operations and disasters.

Umeokolo plans to stay in the ANG and continue to progress in her career.

“My long term goal is to continue to move upward into a position of more responsibility,” said Umeokolo. “A mantra that drives me to continue to serve is ‘You don’t stop when you are tired, you stop when you are done.’”