17th Training Wing Member of the Month: Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Colton

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Tyrell Hall
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

Fire instructors assigned to the Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy are the drivers for the continuous training of the DoD firefighters. One fire instructor outperformed his peers and set himself apart.

Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Colton 312th Training Squadron instructor, fire officer training section chief, teaches a course designed to equip members with the knowledge needed to become more effective fire officers. He was awarded the Air Education and Training Command Fire Service Instructor of the Year Award for 2021.

“It’s a huge honor to be named the AETC fire instructor of the year,” said Colton. “But without the support of my instructors in my section and the leadership of the 312th TRS, I couldn’t have gotten to where I am. I am very thankful for them.”

The fire officer training course that Colton manages, teaches advanced certifications to returning students who have already completed the pipeline and produces the DoD’s top fire professionals. These joint service students range from the enlisted pay grades of E-5 to E-9.

“The advanced course covers human resource management, budgeting, community government relations and incident command and control,” said Colton.

Colton was also selected as the 17th Training Wing’s Service Member of the Month and received a coin from wing leadership. He assists in the instruction of over 4,500 students daily including those from approximately 30 allied nations. 

Firefighting was not his first choice; however, Colton explained why being a fireman is the path he decided to follow.

“Throughout my career I had a lot of mentors from fire chiefs, deputy chiefs and assistant chiefs,” said Colton. “They motivated me and saw my potential for firefighting, so I said let’s give it a shot. I also talked to my dad about it and he was all for it. That’s when I realized this is the job for me.”

While firefighting may not have been Colton’s passion initially, the job definitely chose him in the end. Colton recalled his most memorable moment on his first day as a firefighter.

“I remember the call on my first day being on shift after graduating the fire academy and responding to a motor vehicle accident,” said Colton. “That day really brought all my training and what I signed up for as a firefighter into perspective.”

Colton’s contribution to the mission enables continuous quality training of the DoD’s firefighting force, transforming their critical decision-making skills and empowering them to make vital and potentially life-saving decisions at emergency scenes all over the world.

“People look up to firemen,” said Colton. “When we show up at the scene we’re there to risk our lives to save others. It’s always worth the risk to make that impact in someone’s life.”

Colton is an accomplished Airman, firefighter and instructor. Additionally, he is also a nationally accredited hunter. He has earned the Super Ten, a title very few elite hunters can claim.

To accomplish this milestone, one must successfully hunt various hard-to-get big game animals throughout many parts of North America. This consists of antlered and mountain game species, including predators.

Once achieved, Super Ten title holders are widely recognized and given a trophy as a display of their accomplishments.

Colton’s efforts as an instructor reinforce the 312th Training Squadron’s mission to train, develop, and inspire warrior to deliver fire emergency services. He takes great pride in being part of a career field that makes a difference by responding to crises and providing life-saving support to the community.