An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Feature Search

Andersen Airman SOARS

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Carissa Morgan
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
An Andersen Airman was recently selected for the Scholarships for Outstanding Airmen program. 

Staff Sgt. Joseph Baza, a 36th Maintenance Squadron Fabrication Flight aircraft structural maintenance craftsman, has an opportunity to earn a commission while completing his bachelor's degree as an Air Force Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadet. 

Five active duty enlisted personnel are selected annually within the Pacific Air Forces and 50 Air Force-wide for SOAR. 

This commissioning program allows commanders to nominate outstanding enlisted personnel for a commission. A selection board is held once a year at the major command level. 

The SOAR scholarship covers tuition and fees up to $15,000 per year. It also provides a monthly stipend of $200 to $400 based on grade level and an annual textbook allowance of $900. 

Each Airman is responsible for the completeness and accuracy of their SOAR package. 

"According to the Air Force Officer Accession and Training Schools website, the Education Office was only allowed to help me in an advisory capacity," said Sergeant Baza. 

The selection process is very competitive. Enlisted members considering a commissioning opportunity must prepare themselves in every aspect of their career to be considered highly competitive. 

"The Air Force ROTC selection board utilized the "whole-person" concept, so it was imperative that I represented myself as well-rounded," he said. "Commanders' recommendations, duty performance history and academic performance were key factors in the selection process." 

A nomination letter signed by applicant's wing commander or equivalent and the applicant's squadron commander's recommendation must be received in the applicant's processing package. 

Sergeant Baza obtained two Associates degrees as an Airman: a Community College of the Air Force degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology and an Associates degree of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration. 

Sergeant Baza is a model Airman with several military and civilian awards under his belt. He has received: the Basic Training Honor Graduate Ribbon, the Technical School Top Graduate Award, the Senior Airman Below-the-Zone Award, the 36th MXG Airman of the Quarter in the third quarter of 2006, the 36th Wing Outstanding Maintenance Professional of the Year in the Airman category of 2006 and the 36th MXG Maintainer of the Month for November 2007 in the non-commissioned officer category. Sergeant Baza is also a student black belt in the Universal Kempo Karate Schools Association. 

Sergeant Baza said that serving his country as a commissioned officer has been a life long dream. 

"One of the minimum requirements of obtaining a commission in any branch of service is a bachelor's degree and I wasn't fortunate to go to college straight out of high school," he said. "Enlisting in the Air Force gave me the opportunity not only to serve our country but also the ability to take advantage of tuition assistance. Serving our country as an enlisted member has been my most rewarding experience thus far. I have realized not only the cost of freedom but I've become a better person because of my service." 

Sergeant Baza added he wants to continue serving as an officer and assume greater responsibility by leading the Air Force's future Airmen. 

There is a four year commitment to the Air Force after Sergeant Baza completes his degree through the SOAR program. 

"After I complete my Business Administration degree in Accounting, I will continue to serve proudly in the Air Force," he said. "I'm hoping to get into the finance or auditing career field but will accept any offer the Air Force gives based on their needs." 

Sergeant Baza will be attending Washington State University in Vancouver, Wash., with AFROTC classes at the University of Portland in Portland, Oregon. 

He said he is thankful for all the support received. 

"Foremost, I'd like to thank my wife, Petronie, for all the love and support she has given me throughout my enlisted career," said Sergeant Baza. "She has helped me to focus on my job as an Airman, to do great things for our Air Force and to defend our nation. I'd also like to thank Brig. Gen. (Douglas) Owens (36th Wing commander) and all my past and present supervisors for their support."

Social Media