Chief Master Sergeant (Ret.) Curt Shannon enlisted into the Air Force in 1966 when it seemed inevitable he would be drafted into the Army.
While he was in basic training, a presentation showing fighter jets strafing targets and dropping bombs inspired Shannon to become an aircraft armaments system technician. “I just loved it,” Shannon said about his career choice, adding that he enjoyed the camaraderie, teamwork and feeling of mission accomplishment.
His first supervisor taught him two important lessons that he carried with him for the rest of his career: ask questions whenever he did not understand why something was being done; and to always admit his mistakes. “The only people who never screw up are the ones who don’t do anything at all,” Shannon said.
During his 32-year career, Shannon served in Korea, the United Kingdom and Iceland. He was the senior enlisted advisor to eight wing commanders during assignments at K. I. Sawyer Air Force Base, Mich.; Shaw AFB, S.C.; 440th Composite Wing (Provisional), Dhahran, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; and Malmstrom AFB, Mont. “I always looked at the wing advisor job as the one guy on base who got paid to tell the boss what he needed to hear, not what he wanted to hear,” Shannon said. He retired from active duty in 1998. Shannon continues to serve the Air Force as the director of the Malmstrom AFB museum where he educates the public daily about the heritage and missions of the base.