Tech. Sgt. Jake Harris grew up in a community just outside the gates of Warner Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, where he was surrounded by patriotism.
This sense of patriotism was fostered by many active-duty and retired military members who were his leaders, coaches, and role models through his participation in various organizations such as his church, scouts, sports, and school leadership councils.
“These people instilled a love of America and a desire to serve my country in my heart,” Harris said. “I always knew that I would serve my nation one day.”
Service to others – whether to his country or community – has always been a foundational aspect of his life.
After high school, as an Elder for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Harris served a full-time two-year church mission in Spokane, Washington. He then attended Brigham Young University-Idaho for a year, where he met his wife, and ultimately decided to enlist in the U.S. Air Force as a space systems operator and continue his education while he served.
For five years, Harris supported Space Based Infrared Systems (SBIRS) designed to provide defense and intelligence communities information pertaining to missile warning, missile defense, battlespace awareness and technical intelligence mission areas.
From there, he brought his operational experience to the 328th Weapons Squadron, where he aided the squadron in developing and graduating Weapons Officers and Advanced Instructors – the Space Force’s institutional reservoir of tactical and operational knowledge.
In September 2020, Harris embraced an opportunity to be a part of history and help build the newest military branch – the U.S. Space Force.
“My decision to join the Space Force was easy because I was already a 1C6 [space system operator] for six-and-a-half years under the Air Force,” he said. “Once they stood up the Space Force, I knew that I would transfer over and continue my role in space in defending my nation once I was given the opportunity. It helps that I truly believe in the USSF’s mission and the importance it has always played in both the civilian and DoD domains.”
Harris has found his experience within the Space Force to be “a fun adventure,” with many opportunities to help build, shape, and design the new service’s culture.
While Harris admits to feeling overwhelmed at times due to the rapid pace of the service’s advancement since its establishment in 2019, he is proud of the direction the Space Force and his sphere of influence are moving towards.
“While overwhelming, it is neat to see how the Space Force has helped overcome this by providing improved professional development in the curriculum from Basic Training, Tech School, the 319th Combat Training Squadron, and even a new enlisted Advance Instructor Course at the 328th Weapons Squadron,” Harris said.
“All of this is in the hopes of providing more opportunities to help grow all Guardians,” he added. “So, while it is not easy at times, taking a step back and being part of the Space Force has been beyond rewarding. I look forward to what we, as Guardians, build in the coming years.”
In the two years since Harris became a Guardian, he has already made his mark on Space Force history.
On Nov. 18, he was recognized as the recipient of the “Commitment” award during the first-ever Polaris Awards ceremony at the Space Force Ball in Los Angeles, California, for his work while assigned to the 328th Weapons Squadron.
The Polaris Awards are a newly formed, service-wide Space Force award program consisting of four individual awards, which recognize Guardians who exemplify the Space Force core values of Character, Courage, Commitment and Connection, and one team award, which encompasses all four values.
The Polaris Awards are comparable to the U.S. Air Force’s Outstanding Airmen of the Year awards, where Space Force units and individual Guardians compete across the Field Commands under the Space Force to be the best of the best.
Harris said he was humbled to be in the company of his fellow Field Command nominees, adding that he was not expecting at all to be named the award recipient at the Space Force-level.
“When they called my name for Commitment, I temporarily blacked out in shock that I was selected,” he said. “Being selected as the first Guardian to receive the Polaris award for Commitment was extremely humbling and made me become very introspective on how I can become a better Guardian and provide more to the USSF in my current and future assignments.”
For Harris, when looking back on 2022, it would have been easy to pinpoint personal accolades within his field or major initiatives he led on behalf of his squadron. But he chose a different route instead, directing the spotlight back onto the efforts of his fellow Guardians and unit.
“This award to me is a lot more than just an individual award,” Harris said. “It is a reflection of the time and hard work that my leaders, mentors, and supervisors have put in to develop me as a Guardian and individual. It is also a reflection of the hard work and commitment that each Guardian has put forth every day as they serve. I am thankful to have been selected and will strive to continue and honor the spirit of this award.”
|Date Posted:||01.03.2023 11:18|
|Location:||COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, US|