Honoring our Heroes – Kent Uphoff

Why did you choose the Air Force?

Being from Omaha Nebraska, SAC (Strategic Air Command HHQ) was located just outside Omaha.  Growing up seeing these gigantic airplanes, including the Presidential support airplane, was nothing short of fascinating to me.   I spoke with other recruiters but felt a sense of “family” with the AF.  AF as always had a great name for taking care of their people.

How long did you serve?

Like many others, my goal was to do four years and get out.  Well, we were stationed in Germany at my four-year point, married and had a new baby son.  I loved the security the military gave me, so 28 years later, I retired as a CMSgt (E-9).  We would have loved to do 30 years, however, my father-in-law was ill and needed us to take care of him stateside.  Sadly, I had to retire at 28 years, as we were stationed in Hawaii. 

Did you come from a military family?

Not exactly. A couple of my Uncles served in WWII. I had three first cousins who were in Vietnam as Army Rangers; One that was field commissioned from a Sergeant to a Captain because of his heroism.   My father and mother did not serve in the military, nor did any of my six siblings.  Our three children did not serve, however, the sacrifices they made for me and our success were absolutely astounding.  Because of assignments, all three of our children moved their senior year in High School.

What do you do outside of work?

Luckily, as a young Airman and throughout my 28 year career, I had great charismatic leadership to guide me along.  The two aspects or characteristics of leadership that were instilled in me were 1) taking care of people and 2) growing future leaders.  I am a certified Project Manager (PMP) at USAA and I also sell Real Estate on the side. Both careers afford me the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives by instilling integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do.  There is no better feeling when you work with a young professional and  mentor them along the way.  As a Realtor, assisting a young couple in purchasing their first home is an emotional high.   All our planning, saving, and sacrificing comes to fruition when I’m able to hand them the keys to their new home.  I continue to serve in professional organizations, such as American Legion, VFW, Air Force Sergeants Association and CMSgt’s Group. 

Where was the favorite place you lived?

I once heard, “It is good people that make good places.”  I agree 100%.  Out of 28 years of service, we were stationed overseas in Europe and Asia over half the time for 15 years.  All three of our children were born abroad in Germany, Italy and England.  Each one of our 13 assignments had something unique to offer and was as good as WE made them.  Even during my year in the Gulf War in Taif, Saudi Arabia, I took a way so much.  The people, countryside, food, adventure and life lessons were priceless. It is hard to pick the favorite place in over 25 countries; they all had their “something special” category.    We bought a nice painting in each country we visited and live in that time and experience through the artwork each day in our home and in our hearts.   I will always cherish those 28 years and continue to serve in any way possible to our great nation.