Sergeant overcomes obstacles, selected for OTS

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Eric Schloeffel
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
A Moody Airman's commitment to studying whenever he could put down his weapon during deployments has recently paid off. 

Tech. Sgt. Frank Mailki, 823rd Security Forces Squadron, was selected to attend Officer Training School this summer after completing his bachelor's degree in criminal justice. 

"I had a hard time believing it until I saw my name on the actual selection list," said Sergeant Mailki. "Becoming an officer will come with a lot of responsibility, and since I'm prior-enlisted, people will have high expectations. But I'm ready to tackle the challenges." 

Sergeant Mailki's path to becoming an officer started off rocky, as he spent four years in community college prior to active-duty service with little direction or educational goals. 

"I was on my way to failing out of college 10 years ago," said Sergeant Mailki. "My mother pushed me to attend school when I was 18, and I really wasn't ready for it. Once I enlisted, I finished my Community College of the Air Force degree right away, but had little motivation to continue on." 

As years passed, Sergeant Mailki desire to pursue education remained dormant until his family convinced him of the opportunities he was wasting. 

"My wife couldn't understand why the Air Force offers 100 percent tuition assistance, and I wouldn't go to school," said Sergeant Mailki. "She wanted to go to school, and we had to pay for it. We have three children, so she convinced me that my education could help provide opportunities for them - so I went." 

Sergeant Mailki decided to enroll at Park University in the summer of 2004, and finished his degree nearly two years later. Accomplishing such a feat was no small task for the sergeant, especially considering the frequent deployments all 820th Security Forces Group Airmen face. 

"I actually did the majority of my school work online while I was deployed, which took a lot of discipline," said Sergeant Mailki. "I had to dedicate my only day off to school work. It was hard, but it gave me something to do instead of watching movies all day. I also made the commitment to myself and my family to accomplish this, no matter how much work it took." 

After receiving his degree, Sergeant Mailki decided to inquire about his prospects of becoming an officer. Earlier in his career, he applied to attend the Air Force Academy, but was turned away because of age requirements. 

"Once I finished my degree, my wife asked me why I didn't try to become an officer because the worst thing they could tell me was no," said Sergeant Mailki. "She had a good point." 

The process started with a trip to the education office, where he picked up an application for OTS. Sergeant Mailki spent the next few months compiling a package that included college transcripts, enlisted performance reports and feedback from his commanders about his capabilities as a leader. 

While his package was in the review process, Sergeant Mailki was alerted he had been picked up for a navigator position. But a short while later, his aspirations of turning stripes to bars seemed doomed. 

"I found out while the board was still in process, I had been medically disqualified and wouldn't be able to perform flying duties," said Sergeant Mailki. "I have a herniated disk in my lower back from when I attended jump-school a few years ago. 

"Since I couldn't meet the requirements of a rated officer, I was worried I wouldn't be selected at all," he added. "It was also heartbreaking to know it was being snatched away because of an injury I received while doing something that was furthering my Air Force career." 

Fortunately, Sergeant Mailki learned his fate March 2, as the board decided his performance record was deserving of a promotion to second lieutenant. He is scheduled to leave for OTS in the summer, but has yet to find out which career path he will take. 

"Even though I can't be on flight status, I joined the Air Force 10 years ago to serve my country," he said. "If the Air Force wants me to be a cook, firefighter or cop - it doesn't matter to me. I'll serve in any capacity they need me to." 

From accepting the responsibilities of a commissioned officer to learning skill sets for an entirely new job, the next few years will likely be challenging, said Sergeant Mailki. But the lessons he learned along the way ensure his chances for success as an officer. 

"I'm the first person in my family to graduate college, so there's a lot on my shoulders to perform well," he said. "My view is enlisted people put the boots on the ground and make things happen, and the officers give us what we need to get the mission accomplished. It's going to be an adjustment to take on that new role, but I know I'll always do what it takes to not let my Airmen down." 

Sergeant Mailki's success has not gone unnoticed at his squadron, as his co-workers believe the Air Force will benefit when his leadership skills are transferred to the officer-side, said Capt. Jason Medsger, 823rd SFS operations officer. 

"There are few NCOs' in this career field that can accelerate into such a high level," said Captain Medsger. "He consistently demonstrates an unbound ability to perform at a senior NCO level with outstanding success. I believe he'll make an outstanding officer."