Get Breaking News

Receive special offers from ashemountaintimes.com.

Air Force recognizes Creston native

Melanie Hamm, from left, Savannah Grace Hamm, Cody Lee Hamm and
Senior Master Sgt. Johnny Hamm.

Originally published: Dec. 6, 2012
Last modified: Dec. 6, 2012

Adam Orr

A Creston native, Senior Master Sgt. Johnny Hamm, was recently honored as a “Capital Airmen” for 2013 by the Air Force District Washington for exemplifying the Air Force core values of “integrity first, service before self and excellence in all they do.” 

“It was a great honor to be awarded as a Capital Airmen,” said Hamm. “My leadership nominated me, and I was selected by the Public Affairs team. It's a great honor to allow me to tell my story but, also talk about the Air Force District Washington.” 

Currently stationed at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Hamm is a 1993 graduate of Northwest Ashe High School, and enlisted into the US Air Force in September of 1995. Following basic training at Lackland Air Force base, Hamm was selected as a heavy equipment vehicle mechanic. 

During the early years of his Air Force career, Hamm served in the United Kingdom, Mississippi, the Republic of Korea, Oklahoma, and New Jersey. Hamm has served in support of Operations Southern Watch, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. 

Hamm's duties entail building and maintaining an enlisted force ready and capable of executing their mission. 

Like anyone else, airmen need professional guidance and support which Hamm said he considers an honor to provide. During his last deployment, Hamm was stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey where he helped train Airmen to go “outside the wire,” in Iraq and Afghanistan.


“We trained more than 1,600 airmen to deploy, and that's vigorous training,” said Hamm. “That's everything, including taking care of them and offering administrative support.

At present, Hamm serves as the first sergeant to the commander, Air Force District of Washington, on all issues related to the enlisted force, a job Hamm said he's proud of. He serves as the principal advisor to the commander and key leaders in maintaining discipline, standards, morale and welfare for more than 5,000 Air Force enlisted personnel assigned to Air Force District Washington and Air Force elements worldwide. 

His duties include building and maintaining an enlisted force ready and capable of executing their mission. 

Like anyone else, Airmen need professional guidance and support which Hamm said he considers an honor to provide. 

“The moments I'm most proud of is molding and mentoring Airmen as a First Sergeant,” said Hamm. “To take America's sons and daughters and mold them to become a future leader in the military is a great honor and, as a First Sergeant, we have a lot of influence on airmen — to help make them better, to help them make positive choices in their life and to ultimately succeed.” 

That success could mean anything from helping take care of airmen with medical conditions, to those who have experienced tragedy in their personal lives. 

“We're stationed away from our families and, unfortunately, it's fairly routine that we get the call that there has been a death back home,” said Hamm. “In that instance, for example, part of my job is to make sure my airmen get home as fast as they can.” 

Hamm also monitors administrative actions, performance reports, awards, decorations, promotions, professional military education and family-care programs. 

“When I was working at Fort Dix, I received the call that one of my technical sergeant's daughters was diagnosed with acute leukemia,” said Hamm. “We had him placed on leave, plane tickets bought and one the plane in right at three hours. His daughter is still alive today, and when you get that thank you card in the mail it truly means a whole lot.” 

Hamm said it was an honor to be selected as a “Capital Airmen” for 2013, and said to win the award in the central hub of the US Air Force is a honor. 

Hamm said the AFDW is a central Air Force hub that helps to plan and execute the service's mission the world over, and said he's proud to be selected as a Capital Airmen. 

“We're stationed right here in the heart and soul of our nation,” said Hamm. “We're planning and executing the mission, and that's an important role. As a First Sergeant, we take care and support Air Force elements throughout the world.” 

Despite the pride he feels to serve his nation in uniform, Hamm said he's challenged when he's away from his family. 

“The longer we serve in the military, the longer we're away from home,” said Hamm, who brought his story close to home by saying that his father had recently passed away. “I've been in for 17 years, and for the last 16 years I've missed that time with my father. I'm not sure a lot of people understand that level of sacrifice, and that happens with all our men and women.” 

Hamm said his mother, Janet Hamm, and three sisters, Beverlie Black, Melinda Poe and Ivory Bare, have been key support figures during his time in service, as well as his wife, Melanie Hamm, their two children ,12-year old Savannah Grace Hamm and seven-year old Cody Lee Hamm, and Melanie's parents Jerry and Mary South. 

“I simply wouldn't be able to do what I've done today without my family,” said Hamm. 

For more information and stories, see Ashe Mountain Times.