JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas —
The nerve center of any installation, Command and Control Operations is always ready, but usually calm.
Not so on Nov. 9, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
When a vehicle ran past security at Schofield Gate around 4 a.m. that morning, the 502nd Air Base Wing Command Post shifted into high gear.
At the stick was Senior Airman Danielle Otto.
“As a senior emergency actions controller, she led C2 actions during that fugitive installation breach, helping ensure the safety of thousands of military and family members,” said Senior Master Sgt. Troy Sahai, C2 operations superintendent for the 502nd ABW. “Otto is a team player that displays amazing leadership qualities and is dedicated to helping all members of the team succeed.”
Staff Sgt. Ashley McGovern is impressed by the young airman’s maturity.
“She has been operating at a NCO level ever since she arrived as a brand new A1C, fresh from tech training,” the C2 training NCO said. “We selected Otto to be a part of the C2 training team here and she’s taken the role of alternate training manager, which is typically a duty of an NCO.”
The St. Louis native just passed her two-year enlistment anniversary with recognition as the Command Post Airman of the Year for Air Education and Training Command.
“We nominated her because her performance and dedication to this critical job is outstanding,” Sahai said.
“She has my utmost trust to do her 100 percent best in every task she’s assigned, even when it is beyond the scope of her assigned duties,” said McGovern.
Otto’s path to Air Force service is a familiar one. She headed to Penn State University after graduating high school in 2015.
“I’m into math and I was ready to get through college with an MBA and head to Wall Street,” Otto said.
Sadly, those future plans fell victim to a real-world problem.
“I could not afford to stay in college,” she said.
While in high school, Otto remembers scoffing at potential military service. Post-college, she decided the Air Force was her next step.
Otto said, “I’ve always wanted to be the best that I can be.” Reminded that was the Army’s slogan for decades, she laughed, replying, “It’s an Air Force thing too!
“I feel like I have a clear path in my life, I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing,” she said. “The good thing about this job is that it’s different day to day. When I go to another base, it will be a different job.”
While McGovern admires Otto’s commitment, the NCO won’t be surprised if the senior airman is ever a sergeant.
“She was promoted below the zone and is actively pursuing becoming an officer,” McGovern said.
“My goal is Officer Training School or getting out and using my GI Bill for college and law school,” Otto said.
In between duty and career advancement work, she volunteers at the San Antonio Humane Society and is a Big Sister mentor to a 14-year old.
Otto’s desire to help others extends to her duty time as well.
“She is involved in mentorship events for Basic Military Training graduates and developed a Command Post career field information packet for BMT grads,” Sahai said. “As a member of the Command Chief Dorm Innovation Committee she helped to improve quality of life for all JBSA dorm residents.”
As Otto showed last November during the JBSA-FSH lockdown after the security breach, McGovern believes the 22 year old is a mature role model for young Airmen.
“Working Command Post means truly always being ready to perform,” McGovern said. “Otto has no hesitation when it comes to taking initiative.”