Hard work pays off for Senior Airman Anthony Ratliff

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Hailey Farrell
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Thousands of people are recruited into the Air Force every year, each with their own reasons. Senior Airman Anthony Ratliff, an aircrew flight equipment journeyman with the 509th Operational Support Squadron (OSS), enlisted to apply his work ethic and energy to a greater cause.

“I hit the ground running,” said Ratliff. “I never run out of energy and still have more to give.”

Those qualities helped him to be selected for the Airman Scholarship and Commissioning Program. The ASCP offers enlisted personnel the opportunity to earn a commission while obtaining their bachelor’s degree as an Air Force ROTC cadet.

Ratliff will attend the University of Texas and major in electrical engineering. He aspires to become an F-22 Raptor pilot after completing his degree.

Ratliff said, attention to detail is one of the most important skills he has learned on the job in aircrew flight equipment.

“I take pride in what I do, and I make sure the people I train understand the responsibility in their hands. One day when I am an aircrew member, I hope someone (taking care of me) has attention to detail,” Ratliff said.

509th OSS commander Missouri Air National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Diller said Ratliff has demonstrated his technical expertise in his career field and ability to train others to become experts.

“AFE is a no-fail job because their work is intended to save lives,” said Diller. “Failure in their job can mean a pilot doesn’t come home alive. He understands the gravity of his duty, he takes it seriously, and most importantly he understands what role he plays in the large mission of Whiteman AFB and our nation.”

Ratliff won Airman of the Year for Whiteman Air Force Base and Airman of the Year for Air Force Global Strike Command in 2021. The following year, he was awarded the junior enlisted Lance P. Sijan USAF Leadership Award, which is awarded to service members who demonstrate the highest qualities of leadership in the performance of their duties and conduct in their lives.

“Without a great attitude and work ethic, those things don’t happen,” Diller said.

Additionally, Ratliff made Senior Airman early through Below the Zone, a competitive early promotion program; dedicated six months to the Honor Guard; was the Airman Council President; and currently acts as vice president for the African American Heritage Association at Whiteman AFB.

Ratliff was inspired to follow this path by Colonel Keith Butler, the former 509th Operations Group commander. He said he is following in Butler’s footsteps.

During his time with aircrew flight equipment Ratliff has had the opportunity to learn from and listen to the stories of aircrew members, specifically Butler. Butler told Ratliff about his journey, transitioning from the enlisted force to the officer corps by separating and attending college while participating in AFROTC.

I think the experience I’ve gained on the enlisted side is valuable, because as an officer I’ll understand what the enlisted servicemembers are going through, Ratliff said.

However, after consideration Ratliff decided to use his Post-9/11 GI bill and return the scholarship so someone else could have the opportunity to use it. He will still be going to school while participating in the AFROTC.

Like those who inspired him, Ratliff said he hopes to inspire to others, telling anyone who’ll listen that enlisting is the best decision he’s ever made.