Airman strives to serve, honor, challenge self

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Larissa Greatwood
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Some days she's practicing precision and bearing while holding a flag. Other days, she's greeting customers and sorting their mail. Regardless of what challenge she's taking on, she embraces it with full force.

Twenty-seven year old Airman 1st Class Kara Woods, 86th Communications Squadron postal specialist, said joining the military was something she had planned from a young age. She wanted the biggest challenge she could find, and for her that was joining the ranks of the world's greatest Air Force.

While pursuing a military career, Woods met her husband through mutual friends. He was stationed in Germany and she was living in Washington. Their long-distance online friendship eventually became more serious, and he asked her to visit him in Germany.

"I didn't want to risk everything I had; quit my jobs and put getting into the [military] on hold, so I told him I'd only come out if after the 90 days [being in a foreign country without a visa] was up, he either asked me to marry him or send me home so I could get back into enlisting," she laughed as she recalled. "I went to visit him in September [2013] and we got married in Denmark two months later-- I've been here since."

After marrying her husband, Woods still had her heart set on joining the military.

"My husband is the reason I ultimately chose to join the Air Force specifically," she said. "I decided to go in the direction [of joining the military] because I wanted the biggest challenge. I'm glad I joined because of all of the opportunities I have."

Woods spoke with an Air Force recruiter here and in three short months had a contract for air traffic control. Three months later, on April 7, 2015, she left for basic training.

"I started out in air traffic control when I joined, but I wasn't great at it," she laughed. "It's very numbers-oriented, and I'm very good at thinking and reacting quickly, but I didn't have the right mathematical mindset. At the time, I was really bummed I couldn't make it through training, but I'm glad things worked out for the best. I've had a lot of opportunities in my postal career field that I wouldn't have had in air traffic control. Besides being in administration, which is more flexible, I have really great leaders who allow me those opportunities."

Woods now works at the Ramstein Northside post office. Aside from her normal obligations, she has taken on multiple additional duties. Three months ago, Woods became a member of the base Honor Guard.

"I joined Honor Guard because I wanted to [honor fallen service members] in their funerals," she said. "The idea of giving back to people who gave the ultimate sacrifice, I feel like that's the most humbling thing I could do. I realize the chances of me being a part of someone's funeral that died in combat are extremely slim, but that's what initially attracted me to the program. Once I started practicing with them, I realized everything they do is really neat.

"Coordination is not my strong suit, but I'm getting better," she added. "I knew Honor Guard would be a challenge for me because you have to be sharp, crisp and motionless. I love what they do, stand for and represent. They're a very stable presence in ceremonies, and I think being part of that is such an honor. I absolutely love it."

Being the type of person who enjoys challenges and working hard, having support has given Woods the opportunity to push herself.

"My favorite thing about my job is actually my leaders," she said. "As soon as I got here, they were very supportive of me wanting to help with the volunteer program we have at the post office as well as me wanting to join Honor Guard and become a facilitator for the base. I do my best to make sure the activities I take on don't interfere with work, which inevitably they do, but I try to keep them as separate as possible. Despite the inconveniences, they still support and encourage me to do more. They and my coworkers are the main reason I love my job."

The biggest reason for taking on so many extra duties and activities is that I wanted to start my career off as strong as I possibly could, said Woods.

At this point in her military career, Woods says she plans to stay in for at least 20 years. Through her desire to constantly strive to work hard and challenge herself, whether it's in her office or participating in Honor Guard, she foresees her career being long and full of opportunities to better herself as a person and an Airman.