Airlifter of the Week: 86th MDOS Airman’s passion for success through health

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Elizabeth Baker

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman David Hawkins, 86th Medical Operations Squadron pediatric medical technician, received the honor of being named Ramstein’s Airlifter of the Week, Feb. 13, 2019.

Hawkins has a passion for leading others to a balanced life of mental, spiritual and physical health, he said. That passion started with his upbringing in Alabama.

“It’s a state full of love and community, and with community comes food,” Hawkins said. “That’s where we don’t do so well.”

Seeing people with ideas and talents but without the energy to pursue them made Hawkins want to help, he said.

“A lot of people don’t recognize the correlation between sleep, nutrition and exercise to facilitate who you are,” Hawkins said. “I don’t want you to be in shape just to take a picture on Instagram. I want you to be able to do what you were put on earth to do.”

With an ultimate goal to serve the Air Force as a dietician, Hawkins runs U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa’s largest Pediatric Developmental Clinic. He analyzes referrals for children with developmental disabilities, gathers information for diagnoses and refers them to the medical professionals who can help.

The clinic serves five bases and 9,000 special needs children. One of Hawkins’ major accomplishments was preventing 388 families from needing to relocate to the U.S. due to medical needs.

Hawkins pursues his goals through education, earning the National Academy of Sports Medicine and Precision Nutrition Consultant certification, the National Academy of Metabolic Science certification and an associate degree in practical nursing technology.

Hawkins shows his enthusiasm for helping Airmen improve their health by volunteering across Ramstein. He used his education and training to launched nutrition and cooking classes for 350 base dormitory residents after the 86th Force Support Squadron Rheinland Inn dining facility closure. He teamed up with chefs from the 86th FSS to demonstrate healthy food preparation and nutrition planning to ensure the continued health and fitness of Ramstein’s personnel. He also frequently volunteers to brief at commander’s calls, where he teaches the importance of healthy lifestyle. Hawkins takes his passion beyond work hours and serves as a personal trainer at American Medical Center, a civilian medical practice in Landstuhl.

The dutiful work ethic Hawkins displays came from his father.

“I have a very, very hard working dad,” Hawkins said. “He would work 15-hour shifts and then come home and work on his house.”

The passion and work ethic Hawkins displays got the attention of his leadership, who nominated him for Airlifter of the Week. Brig. Gen. Mark August, 86th Airlift Wing commander, coined Hawkins in a gathering of the Airman’s peers and leadership.

This award is for the best Airmen and for those who make the mission happen, August said. The 86th AW is very proud to offer Airlifter of the Week to someone who takes care of people and who makes amazing things happen as much as Hawkins does. 

Hawkins plans to continue using his skills and training to support his fellow Airmen. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Nutrition, and his next step is to design meal and exercise plans for personnel throughout Ramstein. The legacy he hopes to leave the Air Force is teaching Airmen to think of health beyond mandatory fitness tests and to instill understanding of how fitness is connected to physical and mental wellness.