Military Service Award winner uses lessons from the farm in his career as an airman

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 16, 2019 – Life on the farm prepared Master Sergeant Christopher W. Engelke for the challenges that come with being an Air Force firefighter.

"Growing up on our family farm was hard but rewarding," he said. "I wanted a job in the Air Force that would be similar in those aspects."

In his role as Regional Dispatch Superintendent for the Cheyenne Mountain Fire Emergency Services Flight, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron, 21st Mission Support Group at Operating Location, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station in Colorado Springs, Colorado, MSgt. Engelke heads an emergency first response hub that is also responsible for protecting Peterson Air Force Base and portions of the Air Force Academy.

Last month, he received a 2018 GEICO Military Service Award for the life-saving skills he practices and shares on these installations and in the local community. MSgt. Engelke was hailed as a hero for his off-duty actions after encountering a four-car collision and rendering aid to several injured people, including a pregnant woman.

"The best part of military service is helping people in need and doing my best to train and develop those around me to be better than I ever could be," he said.

Though MSgt. Engelke was raised in Basin City, Washington, he was born in Germany, where his father was an officer in the German Air Force. His maternal grandfather was a Korean War vet who retired from the U.S. Army as a Sergeant First Class. Both MSgt. Engelke and his twin brother Cody, an Air Force captain, are continuing the family's military legacy, while their younger brother Richard is continuing the family's farming tradition.

His service to his country sometimes takes MSgt. Engelke away from his own family, his wife Jenna-Brie and their eight-year-old son Brody, so he spends as much time with them as he possibly can.

Since joining the Air Force in December 2003, MSgt. Engelke has a had long list of assignments as varied as fighting the war on drugs in Colombia, South America, and assisting with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in Biloxi, Mississippi, to name a few.

Each assignment and each of the many jobs he's held has come with their own set of challenges, but they have been nothing that farm life or his military training have not prepared him for and nothing he could not overcome with the love and support of his family.

"The barriers and obstacles I had to maneuver around have challenged me," he said. "They helped build me into a strong and resilient individual who can find the positive in any negative situation or environment."

This year marked the 30th anniversary of the GEICO Military Service Awards, which honor one enlisted member from each of the five Armed Services and one member from the National Guard or Reserve for their achievements and contributions to civilian and military communities. 

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