Tamborski named 2012 Missouri Air Guard Senior NCO of the Year
By Bill Phelan, Special to the 131st
/ Published February 05, 2013
EUREKA, Mo -- A Eureka resident, Master Sgt. Shawn M. Tamborski, has been named the 2012 Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year for the Missouri Air National Guard.
It is the first-such honor for Tamborski, 49, a single mother of five children, two of whom also serve in the Air Guard.
"I am very pleased and very proud," said Tamborski, a 16-year Air Guard veteran who serves with the 239th Combat Communications Squadron, headquartered at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.
Master Sgt. Tamborski was among three noncommissioned officers being considered for the senior NCO of the year honor. The selection is based on recommendations from a candidate's commanding officer, the ability to pass a fitness test and a grueling interview before a board of one's peers.
The daughter of an Air Force veteran, she was born in Fort Walton Beach, Fl., and attended Choctawhatchee High School. After earning a home economics degree at Texas Tech University she married and moved to Missouri, where she went back to school, eventually earning a paralegal degree.
"My sister-in-law and two of my brother-in-laws served in the Missouri National Guard and I used to attend their Family Day events," explained Tamborski. "Then my (then) husband suggested that I enlist since I grew up with the military. I was 33 years old and we had three kids, but that's exactly what I did. It was rough on my oldest child, but it was also among the best decisions I have ever made in my life."
Despite the separation from her family, Tamborski found military life familiar; even easy at times.
"Basic training was easier than I thought it would be," she said. "I was one of only three recruits over 30 years old but I thought if I can raise kids, I can do this."
Tamborski began her Air Guard career in 1996 with the 157th Air Operations Group. In 2000 she joined the 131st Fighter Wing, and from July 2011 to Jan. 2012 she was deployed to Afghanistan as a paralegal, training members of the Afghan National Army.
Tamborski now works full time as the Missouri Air Guard's senior paralegal for inspections and readiness and as the administrative NCO for the 239th.
Looking back, she said her success has come from a combination of maturity and determination.
"If I had joined the Guard right out of high school I could retire right now, but I don't think my career would be where it is," she said. "I learned a lot in college and I think being more mature paid off. I've done a lot in my career and I have no regrets."
The 239th Combat Communications Squadron is a subordinate unit of the 131st Bomb Wing, headquartered at Whiteman Air Force Base, near Knob Noster, Mo.