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Dad’s service inspired future Airman of the Year

150110-Z-EZ686-195 - The 127th Wing Outstanding Airmen of the Year pose between Brig. Gen. John D. Slocum, 127th Wing Commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Robert Dobson, command chief master sergeant of the 127th Wing, for a group photo at Selfridge Air National Guard Base Mich., on Jan. 10, 2015.  The winners, from left, are Senior Airman Janea Cook, Staff Sgt. Kenneth Kirchoff, Master Sgt. Joseph Crocker, Chief Master Sgt. Dennis Barriger, Master Sgt. Maurice Graves, Airman 1st Class Emuobosan Ojaruega and Capt. Brett Devries. The Outstanding Airman of the Year ceremony is an annual formation in which airman are recognized for their achievements during the year.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by MSgt. David Kujawa/Released)

150110-Z-EZ686-195 - The 127th Wing Outstanding Airmen of the Year pose between Brig. Gen. John D. Slocum, 127th Wing Commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Robert Dobson, command chief master sergeant of the 127th Wing, for a group photo at Selfridge Air National Guard Base Mich., on Jan. 10, 2015. The winners, from left, are Senior Airman Janea Cook, Staff Sgt. Kenneth Kirchoff, Master Sgt. Joseph Crocker, Chief Master Sgt. Dennis Barriger, Master Sgt. Maurice Graves, Airman 1st Class Emuobosan Ojaruega and Capt. Brett Devries. The Outstanding Airman of the Year ceremony is an annual formation in which airman are recognized for their achievements during the year. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by MSgt. David Kujawa/Released)

SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- For Senior Airman Janea Cook, one of the best parts of her service in the Michigan Air National Guard is her work with the physical fitness program.

"I take pride in those last two laps," she said of the 1.5-mile run that Airmen are timed running every year. "I enjoy seeing people win, running that last lap or two with someone else. It's not for recognition. I am pushing them, they're pushing me. Together it makes us both a little stronger."

Cook, a member of the 127th Force Support Squadron's Services Flight at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, was the 127th Wing's junior Airman of the Year in 2014. She's also a second-generation member of the 127th Wing - her father, Tech. Sgt. Ronald Cook, is a current member of the 127th Logistics Readiness Squadron.

"My dad was putting his uniform on and serving his weekend drills when I was growing up," Cook said. "I was always interested in what he was doing. Toward the end of 12th grade, I decided to enlist."

Cook enlisted in the summer after graduating high school. She's been in the 127th Wing since then - almost about three years now. Initially, she served as part of the fitness section of the Services Fight. A few months ago, she rotated to a position in the flight's lodging section. The flight typically rotates its personnel around the flight's five primary functions - food services, fitness, lodging, mortuary affairs and recreation - every couple of years.

"Airman Cook helps out without hesitation in all areas of Services," said Master Sgt. Celeste McGowan, Cook's supervisor. " Although she is assigned to lodging, she assists with food preparation, acts as a cashier and she assists the fitness section whenever they are short manned.  She is a 'jack of all trades.'"

McGowan said one of the attributes that makes a person a strong Airman is to engage in assignments with a positive attitude, which she says Cook possesses.

"She always comes in with a smile on her face and leaves with a smile on her face," McGowan said.

The Services Flight typically rotates its personnel around the flight's five primary functions - food services, fitness, lodging, mortuary affairs and recreation - every couple of years. The rotation allows the flight's Airman to gain experience in all aspects of their career field.

"I thought being in the military would be a way to learn new things, to help make me more well-rounded as a person. So far, it's been exactly that," she said.

Cook also recently joined the 127th Wing's Honor Guard team, which provides military honors at the funeral of Air Force veterans and presents the colors at various military ceremonies, such as retirements.

"That's been an incredibly positive experience," she said. "The people that you meet at the funeral are so nice to us when we come to honor their loved ones. You just can't help but feel good about what you are doing."

When Cook is not on duty, she's a full-time student at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where she is majoring in behavioral sciences. She intends to later attend graduate school to launch a career as a physical therapist. Cook said her military educational benefits are going a long way toward financing her college costs. Cook also is a member of a choir at U-M Dearborn and sings in her church choir.

"Seeing my dad in the military, hearing about my grandfather having been in the military - I was just around it," Cook said. "When I joined up for myself, it turned out to be a great decision - one that I am very glad I made."

About the 127th Wing
Comprised of approximately 1,700 personnel and flying both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the KC-135 Stratotanker, the Michigan Air National Guard's 127th Wing supports Air Mobility Command and Air Combat Command operations by providing highly-skilled Airmen to missions domestically and overseas. The 127th Wing is the host unit at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which marks its 98th year of continuous military air operations in 2015.