PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. --
Twelve-year-old Wesley tightly grips his note cards.
The dark-haired boy stands up and makes his way to the front of his sixth-grade graduation.
Wesley tells his class how he dreams of serving. How he looks up to his uncle, who served two tours in Vietnam, his father who served as a Marine, and his two older brothers who were in the Army National Guard.
A few years later in 1999, Wesley Booker became Airman Basic Booker, and began his Airborne Arabic language analyst journey.
Along his journey, the 314th Training Squadron senior enlisted leader deployed over 15 times across seven countries.
“Be flexible and step outside of your comfort zone,” offered the Alabama native. “You never know what opportunities will be out there for you to take advantage of.”
Paving the road for a joint warfighting domain, Booker was one of the first Air Force linguists to train and operate with the U.S. Navy SEALS. After undergoing a 10-week joint training course, Booker deployed with the SEALS as an interpreter.
Booker achieved the highest enlisted rank of chief master sgt. after 24 years in service.
Now selected as the highest enlisted rank, Booker recalls the beginning of his career at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center.
“I had no idea what I was getting into,” said Booker. “I was not prepared for the intensity of the Arabic language program. My study habits were not the best, but I put my head down and focused.”
Booker passes his lessons learned on to the next generation of warfighters, as he enters his new rank and transitions into the senior enlisted leader at the 311th Training Squadron, where he first started his career.
“I have learned from good leaders and what not to do from bad leaders,” said Booker. “Taking care of our people is the number one thing I have learned throughout the years.”
“You have to get to know your people, be a visible leader,” he continued. “Show them why they are such an important piece to our Air Force. We inspire the next generation of leaders.”