“Some people say ‘once a chief, always a chief,’ but we don’t wear these uniforms forever,” said Chief Master Sgt. Christopher August, 8th Fighter Wing weapons manager. “The scariest thing about making chief is having an expiration date. When I sit in a job interview after I retire and introduce myself, I can’t say ‘I am Chief August,’ they would look at me weird, but if I said I am African American they would say, ‘Yes, you are!’ And every day, the moment I drive off base, I am no longer a chief, I am Black and that will never change. It is inescapable.”

August is an African American country boy from Oklahoma who joined the United States Air Force. In honor of Black History Month, August shares his story to inspire future African American leaders.

“I don’t have a problem being vulnerable and sharing my story – that I am a product of welfare, violence and sexual assault,” August said. “Growing up Black and poor, I faced a lot of adversity, but it made me who I am now.”

August was raised by his single mother and grandmother until he was 15, at which point he moved in with his father in New York.

“My mother’s side of the family was like a bucket of crabs,” August said. “Anytime someone would try to go somewhere, there was always someone who would pull you down. It was different with my father, with him there was stability. I never worried about not having heat, lights or food.”

After high school, August attended Norwich University in Vermont on a football scholarship for three years, and pursued a Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering.

“I realized I was not going to become a professional football player, and I knew the military was going to provide economic stability, like it did for my dad,” August said.

August’s father served and retired from the U.S. Army and advised a young August not to join the military, but if he did, to join the Navy or Air Force.