April Brittain took a giant leap forward at 19 and fresh out of Citrus High School when she took off for her 26-year service in the US Air Force.
Today, she is relaunching her military career as a guardian of the US Space Force.
Staff Sergeant Brittain was transferred to the country’s galactic service branch in a ceremony on December 15 – almost December 29, 1994, the anniversary of his entry into the Air Force.
âWe are protecting those American interests,â the Inverness native told The Chronicle, âand just being able to be a part of it, I love it; it feels like part of a bigger thing.
As the Space Force’s first command sergeant, Brittain was responsible for the staffing and career progression of more than 47 first sergeants serving approximately 26,000 space professionals around the world.
âWhether professional or personal, this is where I can help,â she said. “We want each person to be the best they can be.”
On Monday, Brittain’s role switched to Delta 2 Senior Enlisted Leader.
She now advises the commander of the newly activated Space Domain Awareness Delta, which spans the globe with personnel at 10 sites supporting missions in four countries.
Space Delta 2 is responsible for assigning forces to operations aimed at deterring aggression and, if necessary, fighting to protect the United States and its allies in, through and from space.
âI’m going to take care of a team that is responsible for a pretty big space mission,â she said. âThe decisions we make with people will always be in my wheelhouse, but it’s more of a leadership specialty. “
Originally called the Air Force Space Command – which since September 1982 focused on missile warnings, satellite control and space surveillance – the Space Force was renamed in December 2019, following the signing of National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2020.
Brittain is no stranger to defending American interests in the stars.
For four and a half years before her transfer to the Space Force, Brittain was posted to Air Force Space Command, where she supported communications with her computer background.
When the Space Force was created, Brittain volunteered for it on May 4, 2020, paying homage to “Star Wars” and one of the film series’ many slogans, “May the Force Be With You.” .
Brittain found out in November that she had been accepted into the Space Force, making her one of some 30 leaders selected.
“We have never in my life created a new service,” she said. “There is the unknown, there is the challenge of the unknown, and so just to be part of it, there is nothing else I would rather do.”
Even based up to Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, Brittain doesn’t forget his memories of Citrus County, where his mother and brother still live.
âThis is my playground,â she said, recalling days spent as a clarinetist with high school bandmates as the Hurricane football team entered the pitch. âThere was so much camaraderie there. “
Brittain was also a member of the Girl Scouts.
âI loved it all,â she says. “Inverness was so small that when we got the Checkers it was a big deal.”
Brittain “kind of fell” into the Air Force while at Citrus High.
âThat’s really all I’ve known,â she said.
With the exception of her grandfather, who was enlisted, Brittain did not know of any close relatives with military training and she was not part of her high school’s Air Force JROTC program.
âI really didn’t think it was for me,â she said. “I was quite a short and quite shy girl.”
It would later be Brittain’s mother who would encourage her daughter to speak with a recruiter during a senior year at the career fair. Brittain’s mother was also there to see her daughter transferred to the Space Force.
âI tried my luck with the military,â Brittain said. âI was a girl from a small town and had no money to go to school.
It turned out to be one of Brittain’s best decisions, exposing him to affordable education, global destinations, unforgettable experiences and unbreakable friendships.
Whenever she visits her high school every two years, Brittain reminds students of the opportunities offered by the air and space forces.
âI know there are a lot of people like me setting in these seats, in these walls, who just want to think beyond maybe what’s right there in front of them,â she said. âYou can get somewhere if you have a goal and you strive. “
Brittain celebrated the 1995 New Years during Basic Air Force training. Her recruiter, her strict adherence to the rules and her good demeanor helped her adjust to life in the department.
âI felt like I grew up in the military,â she said.
Brittain left the base open for whatever the Air Force had in mind, and started in the security forces, now called “defenders.”
âI was 4ft 10in and 120 pounds of horsepower,â she said. “Very quickly I adjusted to this military mindsetâ¦ the kind of mindset that it didn’t matter if I weighed 100 pounds, I had a responsibility to protect and keep installation. “
Brittain was injured almost two years after taking the job, which led to her choosing military communications as her next job.
According to the Space Force, Brittain completed cross-training as a computer systems and communications control apprentice at Kessler Air Force Base in Mississippi. Its first stationed base was in Germany.
âIt was far from home,â she said, âbut seeing that kind of culture was cool.â
Rising through the ranks, Brittain also provided intelligence and communications support for the ground fighters of the National Reconnaissance Office, both at Cape Canaveral and at its headquarters in Chantilly, Virginia.
âNo matter what kind of role they gave me, I had to learn it and master it,â she said, grateful to her colleagues and mentors for helping me, âand I’m the person who has to ask a lot of questions; I don’t like it when I don’t understand something.
According to his contract, Brittain must spend at least two years with the Space Force. She plans to stay two and a half years, but cannot be drafted for more than 30 years as an E-9 leader.
As Brittain continues her unwavering service, she hopes the citizens she protects will continue to trust her and the missions of the Space Force.
âIt’s important that they trust that we have our best interests in mind,â she said. âWe would love their faith and confidence in us, and their support in us. “