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Airman uses problem-solving skills to help wingmen

Portrait of Airman at computer looking towards to camera with hands on the keyboard

Photo By Senior Airman Christi Richter | Master Sgt. Derek Kirkwood, the Quality Assurance Manager for the Comptroller Flight at the 121st Air Refueling Wing in Columbus Ohio, poses for a portrait on October 16, 2019. Kirkwood is the recipient of the Airman Spotlight for the 121 ARW for the month of October. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Christi A. Richter)


The Rickenbacker spotlight for the month of October goes to MSgt Derek Kirkwood. Kirkwood serves as the Quality Assurance Manager for the Comptroller Flight here at the 121st Air Refueling Wing. He uses his position to help problem-solve and care for his fellow airmen, and his efforts have not gone unnoticed by leadership.

“I chose MSgt Derek Kirkwood because he has a great work ethic and truly cares about the success of the Comptroller Flight by doing what it takes to successfully take care of our Wing members,” said Lt. Col. Gregory Bryant.

Kirkwood is originally from Niles, Ohio and has been part of the 121st ARW for the past five years. He enjoys working at the base and helping people when he can.

“I like solving problems. I like to research and dive into records to find any issues and help our members get paid,” said Kirkwood.

Outside of the guard, Kirkwood owns a farm with chickens, goats, cats, rabbits, and dogs. In his free time, he volunteers for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and helps out with local youth soccer teams.

Above anything else, Kirkwood is most proud of his two children, Madison and Jozef. He says that the best day of his life was returning from his second deployment to meet his son for the first time.

Kirkwood has big plans for the future. He hopes to finish his degree, become a Senior Master Sergeant, and continue serving in the Air National Guard.

“The Air Force can feel like a corporation at times that demands output at the sacrifice of the individual and family,” said Kirkwood. “The Air National Guard and the 121st feels more family oriented, relaxed, and strikes a good balance between the mission and the individual.”