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Air Force top Chaplain Corps’ NCO left the barre behind

By Brian Lepley | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | Sept. 17, 2019

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND —

Like most teenagers, Angela Carter had life all figured out, spending 40-plus hours a week ballet dancing.

“Starting at age 11 I danced pre-professionally all over,” the master sergeant remembered from her office at the 37th Training Wing. “At the Virginia School for the Arts, Ohio’s Ballet Met, American Ballet Theater; I was very intense in that. That was my love.”

As the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Religious Affairs superintendent, she’s familiar with the saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”

“I stayed a straight-A student. I tried out for arts colleges but performing arts schools are extremely expensive,” she said. “I couldn’t afford college and my parents were in the middle of a divorce during my senior year. I was working normal teenager jobs; I didn’t want to join the military.”

What ballet lost, the Air Force Chaplain Corps gained. Carter is the 2018 Gerald Cullins Award winner, recognized as the Air Force’s Outstanding Religious Affairs Senior NCO.

“My team is quite large,” Carter said. “We support 19 different faith groups; have two chapels and a ministry center, with 14 chaplains.”

According to Col. Leslie Janovec, Joint Base San Antonio senior chaplain, Carter’s management of it is heavenly.

“She quarterbacks the largest budget of all Air Force chapels, overseeing execution of $2 million in contracts and 132 resilience programs, which positively impact 7,000 military members and their families, providing spiritual nurture and care,” Janovec said. “She is heavily involved in base and community programs, recruiting and training 453 volunteers for 25 different outreach programs, and raising funds that assists low-income and special needs families.”

In 2014, Carter ended up at JBSA-Lackland upon being selected as a Military Training Instructor. She earned a reputation as a problem solver in the Air Force’s Basic Military Training center at JBSA-Lackland.

“She’s high speed and she’s someone who takes care of her people and I’ve learned the right way to do that from her,” said Tech. Sgt. Arnold Perez, chaplain’s assistant at JBSA-Lackland’s Freedom Chapel. “I served with her when we were first-term Airmen 14 years ago.”

When Carter looks back to that teenage ballet dancer that had it all figured out, there’s no regrets. She’s learned how to take care of herself.

“I thought I knew where I was going and I see dance going away, I don’t know where I’m going at all,” she said. “That world (dance) is extremely competitive, but now I feel like I don’t have anything to prove to anybody anymore.

“There was a path of discovery outside of the world of dance for me in the Air Force. I’m extremely grateful for what the Air Force has provided.”