Airman loses father, gains Air Force family

Airman loses father, gains Air Force family

Staff Sgt. Christopher Atkins, 92nd Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician, runs reports for vaccines given for the duty day onto the Electronic Health Records at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, August 23, 2017. Atkins joined in 2011 at 24 years old. While serving, he took classes to further his education, is now taking his Doctorate Degree in Health Care. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janelle Patiño)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- A five year old asks his mom to see his dad. “Later,” his mom replied. Hours later, police officers show up on their doorsteps to deliver some bad news: his dad had just died.

“I still remember it like it was yesterday. I remember the house being quiet, my mom and sister crying so I put two and two together,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Atkins, 92nd Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician. “I always wondered if we could’ve prevented it from happening if we visited him at his hotel earlier.”

After the death of his dad, Atkins was raised mostly by his sister while his mother worked to support them.

“From then on, my mom, who is a veteran and nurse practitioner, worked second and third jobs to take care of us,” Atkins said. “My sister basically raised me while my mom worked.”

Seeing his mom work hard for the family drove him to excel in school and have a good work ethic.

“With her being the rock of the family, her dedication motivated me to always make her proud,” Atkins said. “Growing up without a dad, sporting events and other 'manly' activities at school were basically eliminated from my life. I became like the adopted son to all of my friends’ dads.”

Because of his experiences as a child, Atkins became more goal driven as he grew. Never getting complacent and working every day to further his education and help other people.

Atkins earned his bachelor’s degree in radio, television and film at the University of North Texas. He began thinking about the future while waiting for his internship. He wanted a career that would help him and his family, so he decided to join the military.

“I went to an Air Force recruiter and joined as a backup plan in case my internship took too long,” Atkins added. “While waiting for my internship, I decided to pursue something that would set me up for success, so I joined the Air Force.”

Atkins joined in 2011 at 24 years old. While serving, he took classes to further his education and is now working toward his doctorate in health care.

“When I joined, my goals were to continue going to school and to travel around the world,” Atkins said. “Fairchild has been my only base after six years of being in the military. I was getting ready to get out until I received an overseas assignment.”

After talking to my family, they influenced me to stay in and see the world. My mom reminded me on what my military goal was in the first place, Atkins said. Getting an assignment to Turkey and Italy had to be a sign for me to continue my career in the military.

Since joining, Atkins has learned a lot and has become a mentor for his co-workers. He learned to value flexibility and to have a good rapport with his co-workers.

“I like to mentor people. To give them financial advice and motivate them to go back to school,” Atkins said. “Now, I frequently donate to causes and help other people because I enjoy helping them set goals and watching them achieve success.”

Atkins hopes to travel more, help other people and to make his mom and dad proud.

“Even though I didn’t grow up with a dad, I am thankful for the life and experiences I’ve had. Without them I wouldn’t be the person I am today,” Atkins said. “There weren’t many college graduates in my family, so I hope I made my dad proud.”