6 out of 10

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Oklahoma -- This is the first of a personality feature series.
Photo 6 out of 10
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kyron Smith, 97th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller, poses for a photo, Aug 16, 2017, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Smith grew up playing basketball with his family and continues to play with base members. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Jackson N. Haddon/Released).

Being in the military can be tough for families. Through deployments, changes in duty location and long hours it’s easy to see where things can start to get complicated. However, every once in a while an Airman receives the opportunity to stay close to family and keep them together for a little while longer.

Altus Air Force Base has given that chance to U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kyron Smith, 97th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller, who joined the U.S. Air Force out of high school in Dallas. With the close proximity to home, Smith now visits his family regularly.

“I go home about once or twice throughout the month to go see my family since it is right down the road,” said Smith. “When my parents take trips to Florida or Georgia, I’ll usually go home for a visit and babysit the kids.”

Smith originally grew up outside of Dallas, a mere 30 minutes away from the city in Killeen, Texas. Even though the town isn’t big, his life was kept interesting by his siblings.

“I have nine brothers and sisters,” said Smith. “The oldest is 23 and the youngest is three and I’m technically a middle child of the family. Back home, the only quiet moment was probably when we were asleep at night. Otherwise we were always outdoors growing up. We’d go play football, or go to the basketball courts, but rarely stayed indoors. Most of the time, we didn’t do anything by ourselves.”

Smith is the sixth out of the 10 children. When growing up, Smith was able to cruise through life thanks to the foreknowledge his other siblings gave him.

“Life as the middle child was pretty easy. You never really are in charge, but you’re never at the bottom of the totem pole either, you kind of just coast through,” said Smith. “I learned a lot of what not-to-do from my older and younger siblings. It’s good having older siblings in school though, because they’ve already done everything so they can help you do this and that.”
Photo 6 out of 10
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kyron Smith, 97th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller, poses for a photo with several family members, Aug 15, 2017, at Cedar Hill, Texas. Smith grew up with nine other siblings in the family in the small town of Killeen, Texas. (Courtesy Photo).

Growing up with that many siblings may have been a challenge for the parents, but Smith’s mother was up to the task. To this day, Smith looks up to his mother as a proud example in his family for ‘excellence in all we do.’

“My mom had 10 kids, assists with care for my grandparents, her aunt and uncle, helped put my oldest brother and sister through college and still makes sure we’re all okay,” said Smith.

The hard work and dedication of Smith’s mother paid off however, Smith was disciplined enough to complete his upgrade training early for air traffic control.

"Both of his parents were in the Army and it shows,” said Robert Schuetrum III, 97th OSS air traffic supervisor. “His professionalism, the way he carries himself and his dedication to the mission are hard to instinctively pick up for new guys. He has a positive attitude and outlook on the Air Force, I think that spreads throughout our entire crew. That’s a nice thing to have because it helps blend the crew altogether into a team."

Part of Smith’s positive attitude stems from the fact that he really enjoys air traffic control.

“Air traffic is a lot of fun, you get to sit around and move planes all day,” said Smith. “When it gets busy, it is a really big adrenaline rush because you have to fit a lot of planes in our airspace. I really lucked out because air traffic is a pretty cool job.”

Along with receiving a job he really enjoys, Smith’s family has also been very supportive of his decision to join the Air Force.

I don’t think I’ve gotten one negative comment about joining the Air Force,” said Smith. “My parents recommended the Air Force and my uncle retired from the Air Force, so he was really excited about me joining.

In the end, its not just the Airmen going to work each day who complete the Air Force mission, it’s the families behind them that help raise their spirits and encourage them to be better. Whether it’s instilling discipline to 10 children, helping out with homework or visiting on the weekend, family is an important part of the Air Force team.