Living the Airman’s Creed:
Citizen-Airman serves community, state and nation in variety of roles
Story and Photos by Airman Alexis Wade, 179th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
MANSFIELD, Ohio (01/22/19)
From day one of Basic Military Training, one of the three core values instilled in Airmen is “service before self” — placing your service to others above your own self interests. Police, firefighters and National Guard members all seek to serve their community, and military service members can also serve their nation here and abroad. It’s not often that one person seeks to serve in all those jobs and more.
Staff Sgt. Patrick Williams, 179th Airlift Wing Force Support Squadron officer select, demonstrates service before self in his daily life by serving not only militarily, but in multiple civilian capacities as well.
Williams credits his altruistic nature to his grandmother and late grandfather, stating that growing up, they made giving a way of life. Stressing to their family the importance of serving others, his grandparents made giving a part of their lives by volunteering throughout the community, lending a hand to those in need. Williams said his grandmother believes if you have more than what you need, whether it be money, resources, food, compassion or love, you should share it with those around you. Taking his grandmothers words to heart, Williams continues to honor the family value of giving to others in his daily life.
A Mansfield, Ohio, native, Williams was working at the Crestline Police Department when he first decided to join the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in 2003. He saw the Reserve as the perfect opportunity to be able to serve his country, while continuing to further his career as a police officer, too. Williams served in the Marine Corps Reserve until 2009, when he took a brief hiatus from the military. Continuing to serve his community as a police officer, Williams then returned to part-time military service via the Air National Guard in 2011 while remaining on the police force.
Williams sought a fire protection position at the 179th Airlift Wing after leaving the Marine Corps in 2009, but after waiting two years for a spot to open up he learned of an opportunity in 2011 to go to the Michigan Air National Guard and serve as a fire protection specialist, until a position would open up at the 179th AW. In 2013, that opportunity arose and he took it, returning to Ohio to serve. His strong desire to serve as Fire Protection stemmed from his desire to serve others.
“Helping people is always a goal of mine, and I think in anything I do, I hope to be serving someone else before myself,” Williams said.
Not only does he serve others through his career choices, he makes it a personal priority to serve his community as well. Williams has been a police officer for 16 years, currently a part of the Mansfield Police Department, where he has worked at for 12 1/2 years.
As a police officer, Williams has made it a goal to connect with the youth of the community in hopes that they will see law enforcement do more for the community than just arrest people; he hopes to show them that they are humans, too. One way Williams has worked to achieve this goal is by establishing a reading program within the Mansfield City Schools system. This program gives the police department the opportunity to read to kindergarten classes several times throughout the school year, enabling the police department to interact with the children, instilling a positive relationship between the children and law enforcement at a young age.
“To build a rapport with them and to familiarize them at the youngest level of being a student is important, with the hope that, as they grow, they will respect not only law enforcement, but each other as well and develop a love for literacy and reading,” Williams said.
Williams believes this is not only important for the relationship between the children and law enforcement, but also for the hope that the program will set children up for success in their future endeavors.
“Reading is so important and if you enjoy it, it’s less tedious of a thing to do,” Williams said. “Every career field that everyone is achieving great things in, there’s probably reading involved. You can become anything you want if you’re a reader.”
The formation of this program was created after Williams was involved in a SWAT team raid of a home. He vividly recalls the scene, describing the young, school-aged children, fearfully huddled under their kitchen table as law enforcement entered the home and detained individuals inside.
“This cannot be the last image of police officers they see,” Williams said. “If they never get an explanation of why we were there or what we were doing, they might be so fearful of law enforcement that in a time they would legitimately need help, they would be afraid to ask for it or seek it out.”
Another way Williams attempts to establish a positive relationship with the youth of the community is by substitute teaching.
The past three years, Williams has taught as a substitute teacher in the Mansfield City School District, giving him the opportunity to be present in front of the children, before they put themselves in front of him as a police officer.
Williams’ exceptional service to his community hasn’t gone unnoticed. Williams was nominated for and won a career achievement award last year.
Williams was recognized in April 2018, receiving one of the 2018 “10 Under 40 awards,” presented by the Richland Young Professionals Group. The award is presented to outstanding young professionals under 40 years old throughout Richland County, who are nominated and chosen based on: career achievement to date, leadership within the community and their profession, involvement within their community, potential impact for their community, along with many other factors.
Always striving to do more, Williams is looking at his journey of becoming a military officer as another stepping stone in his career that will enable him to have a greater impact while serving and leading those around him.
“I believe in many ways the military officer in any branch is receiving the highest level of leadership training that there is,” Williams said. “The formal training is something I look forward to undertaking and receiving, because I think it will make me more capable of serving not only in a military capacity, but will also bleed into my civilian professional career as a supervising officer, a sergeant at the police department.”