Know Your Military: 2nd Lt. Melissa Childs

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Kellen Kroening
  • 128th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
2nd Lt. Melissa Childs carries herself with a quiet confidence, and what appears to be an endless reserve for patience. This seems to be a requirement for her very demanding position as the executive officer for the wing headquarters office. A position normally reserved for field grade officers, Childs was selected for the position after serving as an Equal Opportunity officer for less than a year. In a month that celebrates our Nation’s African American history, it is fitting that our first “Know Your Military” series subject is one of our finest junior officers and the first black female officer to serve at the 128th Air Refueling Wing in over a decade. The following is a transcription of an interview with Childs on Feb. 27, 2018.

Public Affairs: Lets start with an easy one. What sparked your interest in joining the military?

Childs: My older sister Maria Campbell joined before me and I saw the opportunities she had to travel, the college benefits, and the additional skillset she was gaining from the Guard, and I grew more interested in joining myself.

Public Affairs: After serving as an enlisted Airman for 9 years, what made you decide to join the officer ranks?

Childs: The Guard is something I grew passionate about quickly. I feel fulfilled when I feel like I am making a difference within the work place, I felt in order to make an impactful difference within the wing, I would need to join the officer ranks. Also after graduating UW-Milwaukee, I felt I was equipped with the aptitude and skills to be a successful officer.

Public Affairs: You are currently serving as executive officer for the Wing Commander. This is a very demanding position. What attribute do you possess that contributes to your success in this position?

Childs: Being a prior teacher, I always had a plan but I had to be able to flex from the plan if needed. I feel in this position the ability to be flexible is key and also to think quickly on your feet in order to problem solve.

Public Affairs: Col James Locke, Commander of the 128th Air Refueling Wing said “Lt. Child’s discipline and insight to read situations and fill vacuums with solutions and teamwork is a force multiplier for the Wing.” How does that make you feel?

Childs: It’s reassuring to hear that my work effort is being noticed. In this position every day is different from the next. Some days I feel well accomplished, some days you are putting out fires, so its nice to hear my contributions are beneficial to the wing. 

Public Affairs: What has been the most difficult hurdle to overcome at this point in your career?

Childs: I applied for 4 different officer positions on base before I was selected for my current position, I felt like I had to prove myself  more than the average person with being a women in a predominately male force, and additionally a minority. 

Public Affairs: You are the only female African American Officer currently serving at the 128th, and only a few have come before you. What does that mean to you? 

Childs: It’s a little surprising because African-American's have made great contributions in society, the military, the corporate world, and within the community overall. We strive to break cultural barriers and offer more opportunities to all women in the military so that we can grow professionally and advance in our careers.

Public Affairs: Can you tell me about the most rewarding moment go your career?

Childs: When I graduated Officer Training School in 2016, it was a great feeling for my sister to be my first salute. She has mentored me throughout my Guard career and just life in general and it was very symbolic of what the first salute is all about. 

Public Affairs: Did she salute you begrudgingly? Or was she genuinely proud?

Childs: She was genuinely proud, and always has been my biggest cheerleader.

Public Affairs: What is next for your military career? 

Childs: Focus on upcoming professional military education, sharpening my skills in the Force Support Squadron officer career field and always preparing myself for the next opportunity that may come my way.