BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, LA (KSLA) - Leading by example while committing to serve his country.
An ArkLaTex native is making a big impact in others’ lives, both in and out of uniform.
“Now being in the military is less about me and more about everybody else,” Senior Airman Solomon Waddles said, “Me being younger, I can be honest, I was a little bit about myself, and I believe a lot of people are like that when they’re young and immature, and I was immature.”
Like many others, he joined the Air Force to help pay for school and travel the world. Waddles now holds a a degree in psychology from LSU-Shreveport.
“It was the opportunity to finish school. I was the first one in my family to graduate from college. So that was a great opportunity, but things begin to change.”
Over the past five years, Waddles noticed a more personal change.
"The military allowed me to grow up, matured me in many ways as far as my leadership, the ability to influence, the ability to really make a difference."
Natural abilities that you could say he never was fully able to tap into before.
“I got a name like Solomon; it’s like the wisest king,” Waddles smiled. “So there’s been pressure on me to sometimes fulfill those things, and I believe that I tried hard to do it when I was younger.
"But the more that I am just myself and I walk in that natural confidence and I just be who I am, that it’s just natural.”
His abilities and dedication to his unit in equipment maintenance line delivery did not go unnoticed.
Waddles, who is waiting to commission as an officer in the Air Force, was awarded the coveted title of 307th Bomb Wing’s Airman of the Year in January.
“It means so much more because it’s recognition of how I really care,” Waddles explained.
“I really care about first my community, my co-workers, the guys that I work with, the guys that I go to war with every day. And to be recognized it just really brings it full circle.”
When he’s not in uniform, the Haughton native can be found volunteering his time at the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission. “I like going up there; I work in the kitchen with the guys. And just meeting them and seeing their faces and hearing their stories. And there are veterans there.
"They need volunteers by the way,” Waddles added with a smile, “(but) I really enjoy going there.”
Spend any amount of time with Waddles and it's hard not to be inspired. He has a natural ability to bring our the good in others.
"I love people. This truly gives me the opportunity to touch people from all facets of life. That's what I want to do, I want to leave an impact."
Respecting the process and journey he's on.
“Proverbs says a ‘good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children’, and I really believe that Proverbs sticks with me because what the Air Force has done for me. It’s an inheritance that I really want to leave.
"There’s lineage and heritage of great military members, and it just continues to travel through their family. And that’s something I want to pass on to my children one day.”
Changing the world one day at a time.