Instructor Pilot earns Outstanding Airman of the Year 2021

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Diana Snyder
  • 193rd Special Operations Wing

Captain Andrew Verriotto, an Instructor Pilot on the EC-130J for the 193rd Special Operations Group earned the 2021 Outstanding Airman of the Year award in the Company Grade Officer category for the 193rd Special Operations Wing. Verriotto has served in the Air Force since 2011.

The Vermont native sat down to talk about his military experience and what got him to this point in his career.

-Can you talk about some of the things you've been doing in the past year that led to your success?

I became an instructor in August 2020 and since then, I came in on orders to support the flying schedule, as well as training some of the new compilers coming in from initial training. That gave me an opportunity to provide some mentorship and pass on past experiences to the new guys coming in so I could lay a solid foundation for them to develop in their careers. And then from that, I came in on a couple of different orders supporting D flight as a section supervisor as well as the opportunity to work with the wing, coordinating and finding a readiness exercise for us to participate in the last year.

-How have those experiences helped your career develop?

A big turning point in my career was becoming an instructor. It gave me the opportunity to present my mentorship to some of the new pilots coming in. It give me a new perspective on how I can impact the squadron here at sort of a basic level, not just as like an aircrew level. So providing that mentorship and officer-ship for the new guys was really nice to open up my eyes on some other opportunities that I could do here to sort of make a difference. I think while planning the readiness assessment, I had an opportunity to share the knowledge of how we are mission set with other entities outside of the Air Force. I was able to explain to the Navy, who we were participating with, what we do. Just passing on the capabilities of the our mission set was a great opportunity.

-What originally brought you to join the Air Force?

I always wanted to join the military because my grandfather was a pilot for the Navy. Throughout high school, one of my good friends, his father was a wing commander in the town that I grew up in, in Vermont, and just seeing the lifestyle that his family had throughout the guard made me want to join the guard. I always knew I want to join the military but the guard was just something I saw through personal experience.

-Can you talk about a setback or a failure that you've ended up learning from?

I don’t think I would call it a setback or a failure, but certainly the work life balance between a family, the military and a civilian job has had lots of ups and downs and challenges. I think the only way to get through that was just talking with other peers here at the unit and getting my family involved with their family so everyone kind of understood the lifestyle a little bit more. I think it's something that everyone really needs to balance out. And that's kind of been one of the biggest challenges for sure.

-How do you stay focused when things get stressful or overwhelming?

I think specifically related to our mission set, just sticking to your training, using your crew, and knowing operating procedures and tech orders eliminates deviating outside of a good course of action. Those are our guidelines that we follow. So sticking to those really helps to alleviate any sort of overwhelming feeling.

-How do you stay motivated and productive?

I think it’s not so much on me when I come in on a drill weekend. The full time staff do a really good job of putting together a schedule for drill status guardsmen to keep working on the currencies throughout the year. The credit definitely goes to the full time staff for creating that drill schedule to make sure everyone stays productive.

-What advice would you give to someone looking to become an officer?

I think if you want to become an officer, just don’t worry about whatever doubts might be placed in you through either self-doubt or any influence from an outside person. Just keep focused. I would say don't be frustrated and you know, anybody can do anything, so if you want to just keep focused and don't let it distract you.

-Do you have an internal code or mantra?

Every day I come in here to work with the crew, and I expect sort of a mutual respect where I also respect them. I think we all have a lot to offer to each other and I'm certainly not the smartest guy in the room. I just want people to give each other an opportunity to voice their opinions and I think that makes my crew dynamics work the best.

-What do you focus on in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies?

I fly a lot. But just house projects, honestly, a lot of woodworking.

-Can you talk about your family and how they motivate you?

I've been married for the last four years. My wife and I have been together for, gosh, 10 years. We don't have any kids; however, I certainly couldn't do all of this if she wasn't involved and wasn’t encouraging of it as well. She knows how much it means to me and my service with the 193rd also means a lot to her. So just having her on the same page is something I couldn’t ask for more.