Andersen's Dynamic Duo
By Airman 1st Class Michael Murphy, 36th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 04, 2019
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam --
The young boy was on his way to a unit potluck, and he wondered what new information he would learn that night. The unit potluck was for what is now Detachment 2, 21st Space Operations Squadron.
Little did Joel N. Chalmers know that the conversations at those potlucks would eventually lead him to want to work in space operations, just like his dad, Joel E. Chalmers, Det. 2, 21 SOPS station manager.
“Getting involved at a young age, I didn’t know what space was,” said Maj. Joel N. Chalmers, 36th Wing Inspector General, director of inspections. “As I grew up, I figured out what I wanted to do. A lot of mentors told me about space, and you kind of look up to those people.”
Joel. N was born and raised on Guam, and in Air Force culture. He moved back to the states for a period while his dad worked at Kirkland Air Force Base, New Mexico and other bases in the states. He spent his high school years in Japan. To Joel N., it only made sense to join the family he has known his whole life.
“After Misawa, my Dad retired from Lockheed Martin and the family and I moved back to Guam,” Joel N. said. “I had just graduated high school in 2002 and I moved back with him. I went to the University of Guam for a couple of years and did the Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps, but always knew that I wanted to go into the Air Force. Eventually I left to go to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to join the Air Force ROTC, and pursue a career in the Air Force.”
Joel N. received his commission in 2009. While filling out his job preference sheet, the talks from mentors and leaders in his life as a child came up, and space operations seemed like the right choice as his number one pick.
“That’s what my career field end up being,” said Joel N. “I knew I wanted to do the space career field.”
The 21 SOPS primarily protects, monitors, conducts and enables satellite and launch operations in support of national objectives. 21 SOPS is also a part of the Air Force Satellite Control Network which provides assured access to space. The AFSCN consists of seven remote tracking stations located around the world. 21 SOPS is responsible for operating four of the Remote Tracking Stations.
Joel N. was ready for his own adventures, but always wondered what it would be like to get stationed home, with his Dad and his wife’s family, who are also from Guam.
“There are very limited space operation career opportunities on Guam,” said the Major. “My wife Melinda and I figured that we would never be stationed on Guam. Ever since I entered the military, my career goal was to be the detachment commander out on Guam. The timing worked out perfectly to where I became the flight commander of the 21 SOPS RTS at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, which is the sister site for Guam.”
Joel N. and Mr. Chalmers thought that this would be the closest they would get to working together. The humor of working so closely began to unfold for the dynamic duo.
“It’s kind of a close community,” said Joel E., chuckling next to his son. “Someone might be inspecting us and they will say ‘Oh, I met your son.”
Towards the end of Joel N. and his wife’s assignment, they were expecting to go back to Colorado Springs, and were discussing what that would look like for them.
“One day I decided to go onto my career field’s assignment page and look at the hot jobs list,” Joel N. said. “An assignment for Guam was on the top of that list. I was not due to PCS yet but I called my assignments team to express my interest. The next thing we knew I received an email saying I was matched for an assignment.”
Joel N. and his family soon after moved to Guam, and joined the 36th Wing IG. It wasn’t how He expected, but both Him and his wife were thankful.
The Air Force provides unique opportunities to those willing to volunteer. Joel N. is glad that his kids have time with his family and his wife’s on the island they grew up on.
“We have three kids, and having them come out here to spend time with both my parents and my wife’s parents is pretty invaluable,”