Air Force Firefighter of the Year 2020

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joao Marcus Costa
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

A Misawa Air Base Airman recently won the 2020 Military Firefighter of the Year Award for the Air Force.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Journey Collier, a 35th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, will represent the Air Force in the 2020 Department of Defense Military Firefighter of the Year competition. Collier said she is humbled and recognizes her team for enabling her success.

“It's a huge accomplishment, but it's definitely not something that I did by myself,” said Collier. “I've spent all four years of my career at Misawa Air Base. I've had many supervisors and experiences that have definitely helped mold me into who I am now.”

Collier didn’t earn this award by rushing into burning buildings and saving cats from trees. She earned it by doing her job with a positive mindset.

“I feel like I'm just doing my job and what's expected of me,” said Collier. “My only goal is to try to make sure I'm not making the day harder for anybody else and making our 48-hour shifts a little more enjoyable. I want to be someone that's reliable and dependable for my team.”

Collier’s accomplishments included streamlining the firefighter certification process for new Airmen, cutting out 135 surplus hours; giving virtual school tours to 300 kids amidst the COVID-19 pandemic; and leading three trainings with her Japan Air Self-Defense Force counterparts ensuring 23 firefighters were able to work together and secure the safety of Misawa’s sole joint, bilateral and civilian airfield.

“Collier is an outstanding technician in her craft, excelling in her schooling, personal and professional life,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Damean Moore, the 35th CES deputy fire chief. “Not only is she dedicated to her work and this team, but she’s also dedicated to give back to the community. When we talk about the whole Airman concept, that’s who she is.”

Being a firefighter wasn’t something she ever planned to do. Collier decided to become a firefighter to challenge herself.

“I wanted to do something I've never done before and didn't know anything about,” said Collier. “You would only see firefighters, from time to time, during emergencies, but you never get to see what their life entails. I chose this life to see for myself.”

Collier has decided to continue challenging herself with new opportunities.

She was accepted into the Professional Officer Course-Early Release Program (POC-ERP) commissioning program and will return to the United States to continue college. As she prepares to leave, she continues to train new Airmen, leaving a positive impact as she goes.

The team is sad to see her go, but enjoys knowing she’s being used for the betterment of the Air Force.