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Chief Select Inmon: First Active Duty Female Chief Boom Operator

Senior Master Sgt. Andrea Inmon poses for a portrait in front of a KC-135 Stratotanker at Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., May 23, 2017. Inmon will become the first female active duty chief master sergeant boom operator. (United States Air National Guard photo By Staff Sgt. Kayla Rorick)

Senior Master Sgt. Andrea Inmon poses for a portrait in front of a KC-135 Stratotanker at Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., May 23, 2017. Inmon will become the first female active duty chief master sergeant boom operator. (United States Air National Guard photo By Staff Sgt. Kayla Rorick)

PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H. --

Update: The earlier version of this article stated that Chief Inmon was the first female chief boom operator in the Air Force, which was incorrect. The corrected version of the story can be found below.

Inmon joins the Guard and reserve female chief boom operators that came before her as the first within Air Force active duty component. 
Their contribution and service as part of the total force integration has proven to be and will continue to be invaluable.

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A newly selected chief master sergeant sees her promotion as an opportunity to create a platform for future female boom operators, aviators and Airmen. Senior Master Sgt. Andrea Inmon, boom operator, 64th Air Refueling Squadron, has been selected to promote to chief master sergeant, making her the first female chief master sergeant boom operator in the active duty Air Force.
  
As a Senior Airman, she remembered speaking with a supervisor about her potential in the Air Force.

“A chief in my career field told me, ‘Andrea you could be the first female sergeant chief boom operator.’ I laughed and forgot about it,” said Inmon. “It wasn’t until I became a senior master and thought this could actually be a possibility.”

As a female, Inmon faced challenges throughout her career in order to reach her newest promotion.
  
“I did not have many females to look up to in my career field,” she said. “Sometimes I felt like I had to work harder to prove myself.”

Inmon said she learned how to be assertive when she was growing up in a big family but in a male-dominated career field communication has been her biggest obstacle.
  
“Always being in a male-dominated career field, whether it’s flying in a crew or talking in a work center, I have to change my approach because of how others are going to interpret me,” she said.

She added every Airman will face difficult and unique obstacles throughout their career.

“You will need to deal with different challenges in your career,” said Inmon. “Earlier on in my career, about two years after time in service, I went through significant emotional events in my life. If it hadn’t been for the support of my supervisor or my commander I would not be where I am at today.”

Inmon hopes having the platform as a female chief will inspire female aviators to continue chasing their dreams.
  
“I want them to know anything is possible,” she said. “You have to put your mind to it and work hard for what you want, don’t take no for an answer and always bring your best and encourage others to be better.”

Although Inmon believes her new position is an advancement for female aviators and Airmen, she is focused on being an example and mentor for all Airmen. 
  
Tech. Sgt. Julio A. Perez, a member of the 64th Air Refueling Squadron, said Inmon is the reason he is still serving today.

“She has been the single most influential person of my entire Air Force career,” said Perez. “Chief has challenged me to be a leader and a mentor to others. She has strengthened my service-before-self core value and I am a better NCO for it today.”

Inmon said she hopes to instill the importance of working as a team and caring for one another in the Airmen she mentors as her parents and supervisors had done for her.
  
“My parents instilled in me at a very early age the importance of discipline, teamwork, and working together no matter what job it was,” said Inmon. “You always had to do your part and always do your best.”

For Inmon, her focus has always been to do her best in the job she was given.
  
She initially joined the Air Force after graduating high school in May 2001 to travel and further her education. In September of 2001 Inmon arrived at her technical training school one day before 9/11.

“I will never forget the feeling of seeing the first airplane hit the tower and watching as the second one hit. In that moment, that increased sense of patriotism and dedication to finishing tech school and serving in the Air Force hit me,” said Inmon.

Now 15 years later, after multiple awards for Squadron Airman, Instructor and NCO of the year, Inmon said she still loves being able to fly, but she has discovered the most fulfilling part of her job comes from mentoring Airmen.

“There is absolutely nothing better,” she said. “Finding out you made an impact, helping and supporting the Airmen here are by far the most rewarding parts of my job.”

Lt. Col. Joshua J. Zaker, commander of the 64th Air Refueling Squadron, said Inmon has been involved with Airmen at every level of the wing.

“She understands how powerful it is to invest in people,” he said. “She is a talented boom operator instructor and evaluator. She has done much to improve the squadron's processes, but her biggest impact has been in the mentorship and professional development for our Airmen.”

Being an instructor energized Inmon to continue advancing her career.

“I wanted to go someplace where I could continue to make an impact,” she said. “As an instructor you really get to hone your specialty knowledge and help share that knowledge with the Airmen that are coming through.”

Zaker said Inmon is a leader first and foremost.
  
“She’s the embodiment of ‘Airman first, specialist second,’” said Zaker. “Andrea is an Airman's Airman and I'm humbled to serve alongside her.”

Inmon said she has learned as much from the Airmen she has mentored as she has taught them.

“Find those individuals in your life who will share candid and honest feedback with you, no matter what their rank may be,” she said. “If you are willing to accept it and make changes from it, you will be a better Airman and a better leader.”
  
Inmon said she believes mentorship is a full circle and she is honored to share her knowledge with Airmen as a chief.

“Watching Airmen I have mentored come up through the ranks is the most phenomenal thing to see,” she said. “The Airmen are the ones that make me better every day and I would not be where I am at without their help.”

While her new position will produce challenges, Inmon said she is able to rely on the specialists and Airmen around her to help accomplish the mission.

“Any job is initially daunting,” she said. “But you need to have the humility to acknowledge where you are at and rely on the wingmen around you.”
 
Leading by example, Inmon continues to inspire Airmen to be humble leaders, mentors and wingmen.

“You’re going to make mistakes,” she said. “And you will stumble, but it’s how you recover from those mistakes that matters. You will see in your career, individuals who make mistakes and they can’t get back up. But if you can get back up and keep running and keep doing the best you can, you’re going to do awesome things no matter who you are or where you are going.” 



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