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Serving our nation from Contracting to becoming a Pilot

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey
  • 168th wing

Serving as a contract specialist in the 183d Wing, Illinois Air National Guard, Airman Rachel Clark received a phone call to serve in the 168th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard. Since the day she received the phone call in 2019, she has served with the 168th Wing and is now Lt. Rachel Clark.

“Sometimes it can be hard for our Airmen in Mission Support Group or any supporting agency, to see the impact that they play in executing the mission. Fortunately for me, I’ve been afforded a lot of opportunities to see my contribution first-hand,” said Clark.

One of the opportunities she was given while in contracting, included serving in the project management office, directly supporting the Agile Combat Employment mission in 2022, while TDY to Hawaii and Guam. Part of her efforts were to restore the World War II airfields.

“I helped contract some of the efforts to repave the Northwest field on Guam,” said Clark. “We also coordinated with different Red Horse squadrons to secure the equipment and materials they needed for various troop labor projects.”

“It’s a very rewarding feeling knowing that our efforts are directly impacting China's decision-making.”

Clark’s first deployment was in 2023 to Iraq, where she supported the 408th Contracting Support Brigade. Her primary mission was to oversee the base life support services for forward operating bases. Those services included water and fuel delivery, generator maintenance, black water removal, and pest control services.

“These services were critical for our bases,” said Clark. “We were in constant communication with customers and contractors on the ground to ensure there was no performance interruption in these essential services. Seeing the impact and knowing that our troops can't execute their mission without our support is part of why I continue to serve – because I love the mission.”
During deployment, Clark was recognized as the company grade officer of the month and officer of the quarter.

“Not only was it her first deployment, but she knocked it out of the park,” said Col. Michael Griesbaum, 168th Wing commander. “I’m happy she is serving with us and staying here at the 168th Wing.”
As she approaches her tenth year in the Air Guard, Clark will soon leave contracting.

“I was selected to be a KC-135 pilot,” said Clark. “With the best unit – here with the 168th ARS."

Clark also noted that she wouldn’t be here without her family. "Their support and encouragement have enabled me to go out and do some awesome things, and just knowing how proud they are – these are the things that motivate me and are why I continue to serve.”