Capt. Dave Erwin: My Biography
From Airman Basic to Captain
Captain David Lee Erwin was born in Mission Hills California in 1961. He graduated from Baldwin Park High School, Baldwin Park California in 1979 then entered the Air Force in January of 1980. Captain Erwin attended basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio Texas graduating an Airman Basic. He then attended technical training at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois where he graduated in the top five percent of his class earning the three skill level in aerospace ground equipment (AGE) technology.
Captain Erwin was first assigned to the United State Ai Forces in Europe, 601st Component Repair Squadron, Sembach AFB West Germany. His first mission was to find a wife and married the former Miss Susan Barbara Hinds of Sembach AFB. The day of his wedding he met a promotion board and was promoted Below-The-Zone to Senior Airman. During his tenure in Europe, he supported exercises in Spain and Northern Germany. He was the only AGE technician in Europe hand-selected to support Air Force One during President Reagan’s visit to Normandie, France. With less than four years in the Air Force, Captain Erwin was selected for promotion to Staff Sergeant.
In 1984, Captain Erwin was transferred to Tactical Air Command’s 35th Tactical Training Wing at George Air Force Base in California. He served as Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of virtually every section within the AGE branch. His training programs and process improvements were key to the AGE branch attaining 100 percent equipment in-commission rates, and his section and thereby the AGE Branch consistently earning “Excellent” ratings during command inspections. In 1989, then TSgt Erwin quickly became an expert on the Core Automated Maintenance System (CAMS) allowing George AFB to lead TAC in system implementation. His efforts led to his selection to serve on a 12th Air Force team charged with CAMS implementation at Edwards and Luke Air Force Bases. In 1990 he was selected to serve on the operations officer’s staff as Quality Assurance Inspector for AGE and the F-4 aircraft. Later that year, both David and Susan were finishing their bachelors degrees while working full time, their son Joshua was a highly decorated cub scout, tee-ball player, and science award winner while 4-year old daughter Madison directed all family operations; the Erwin’s were honored with the Great American Family Award representing the hundreds of families at George Air Force Base.
In 1991, Captain Erwin was one of 270 individuals selected from over 2000 applicants to attend Officer Training School where he earned recognition as the first of 270 in the categories of leadership and writing. Upon graduation, he attended Undergraduate Space Training at Lowry Air Force Base, Denver Colorado. His first officer assignment was in Systems Command, Consolidated Space Test Center, at Onizuka Air Station, California. As a simulation supervisor, he led 10 engineers in developing and conducting simulations to validate and demonstrate critical satellite control procedures and team readiness. He initiated the training process of four Strategic Defense Initiative missions, MSX, P91-B, ARGOS and the Air Force’s most aggressive launch schedule with MSTI 1.
In 1992, Captain Erwin was transferred to Air Force Space Command’s Fifth Satellite Operations Squadron as the Operations Training Deputy Flight Commander and launch officer. He was instrumental in the launch and early orbit of the Shuttle/IUS/TDRSS, DSCS, NATO IV, and GPS missions. In 1993, he was selected to stand up the Group’s Plans and Programs and Studies office within the 750th Space Group while his office was only 43 percent staffed. He was appointed installation representative for an Air Staff level project which Air Force Auditors heralded his final report as “Best seen to date”. In 1993, Captain Erwin was hand selected to serve as the executive officer to the commander of Onizuka Air Station. His innovative approaches and commitment to improvements reaped dividends for the entire 50th Space Wing which ultimately identified him as the top 1% of 324 lieutenants in the wing.
In 1995, Capt Erwin was assigned to the Office of Special Projects, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Space). As Flight Commander, he wrote mission plans in support of our Nation’s START treaty and supported numerous operations throughout the world. In 1996 he was transferred to the Office of Space Operations, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Space), supporting the National Reconnaissance Office. During this period, he served as Chief of Training, Chief of Standardization and Evaluation, Senior Flight Commander, Launch Officer, and acting Operations Officer. His success supporting the NRO will be declassified in about 40 years.
In 1999, Capt Erwin returned to AFSPC, 321st Missile Squadron, Francis E. Warren AFB Wyoming. During his tenure, Captain Erwin was the only Minuteman III missileer to upgrade to commander on his first evaluation. He served as squadron scheduler, senior flight commander, and acting operations officer. Captain Erwin completed a study for 20th Air Force which resulted in many of his recommendations being implemented. Under his leadership, his flight led the 321st in evaluation results and performance in the missile fields. Captain Erwin retired from the Air Force in April of 2001.
Captain Erwin’s greatest contribution to the United States Air Force is the legacy of his “mission first” attitude, his challenges of the traditional way of doing things and continuously finding better ways to maximize operational capabilities, and the phrases he lives by “Take care of the people and the people will take care of the mission;” “This is YOUR Air Force, Do the right thing, Make a Difference!” Captain Erwin ends his career having served the Air Force for more than 21years.
Significant Career Accomplishments
- Meritorious Service Medal, Recognizing more than 21 years of significant contributions to the USAF
- Combat Readiness Medal, 321 Missile Squadron; 2001
- Summa Cum Laude (4.0 GPA), MS Aviation Sciences/Space, Embry Riddle University; 2001
- Flight Commander of the Year, 321 Missile Squadron; 2000
- Flight Commander of the Quarter, 321 Missile Squadron; 2000
- Selected over more senior officers as Operations Officer over 225 personnel, 321st Missile Squadron; 2000
- Combat Crew of the Quarter (#1 of 15 crews), 321 Missile Squadron; 2000
- National Defense Joint Meritorious Service Medal; 1998
- Joint Meritorious Unit Award; 1998
- Balkan Service Medallion; 1998
- Joint Service Commendation Medal; 1998
- Joint Service Achievement Medal; 1997
- CGO of the Quarter, Secretary of the Air Force Special Projects OD-4 DX; 1996
- #1 Writer #1 Briefer in flight, Squadron Officer School; 1995
- Outstanding Contributor, Squadron Officer School; 1995
- Air Force Commendation Medal, 1995
- Air Force Association CGO of the Year nominee, 750th Space Group Staff, 1994
- Air Force Achievement Medal, 1994
- CGO of the Quarter, 750th Space Group, 1993
- CGO of the Quarter, Consolidated Space Test Center, 1992
- Dick Scobee Leadership Award, Officer Training School, 1991
- #1 Writing skills in class, Officer Training School, 1991
- One of 270 individuals selected to attend Officer Training School among 2,000+ applicants; 1990
- Great American Family Award; George AFB, CA 1990
- Magna Cum Laude; Southern Illinois University, BS Electronics Management 1989
- Inducted to Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society, 1989
- Inducted to Outstanding College Students of America, 1989
- Inducted to National Dean’s List, 1989
- Air Force Commendation Medal, 1988
- Twelve Most Outstanding Airmen of the Year nominee, 35 TTW, 1988
- TAC Certificate of Distinguished Scholastic Achievement, 1988
- TAC Certificate of Extensive Education Achievement, 1988
- Maintenance Person of the Year, 35 TTW, 1987
- Distinguished Graduate, TAC NCO Academy West, 1987
- Twelve Most Outstanding Airmen of the Year nominee, 35 TTW, 1987
- Maintenance Professional of the Year, 35 TTW AGE Branch, 1986
- Air Force Suggestion Award, 1986
- Maintenance Person of the Month, 35TTW, 1986
- TAC Education Achievement Award, 1986
- NCO of the Quarter, 35 EMS, 1986
- NCO of the Month, 35 EMS, 1986
- Maintenance Professional of the Year, 35 TTW AGE Branch, 1985
- Maintenance Person of the Month, 35 TTW, 1985
- NCO of the Quarter, 35 EMS, 1985
- Academic Award, NCO Leadership School, 1985
- Drill Master Award, NCO Leadership School, 1985
- NCO of the Month, 35 EMS, 1985
- Golden Wrench Award, 35 EMS AGE Branch, 1985
- NCO of the Month, 35 EMS AGE Branch, 1985
- TAC Certificate of Recognition for 92% on 7-level CDC, 1984
- Airman of the Quarter 601 TCW, 1982
- Below-the-Zone promotion to Senior Airman, 1981
- Airman of the Quarter, 601 CRS, 1981
Life After The Air Force Retirement
So what does a guy with 21 years experience in the Aerospace industry do after retiring from the Air Force? Well living is the Silicon Valley and two kids in college . . . I did not retire!
I am absolutely living the dream! Right after the Air Force I joined Stellar Solutions Inc. Stellar Solutions hires people with unique skills to perform in their “dream job”. I’m currently a Senior Systems Engineer and Advisor to Air Force personnel in the space industry. I work with some amazing people and we are faced with unbelievable challenges every day. The skills I gained while serving in the Air Force were key to my employment with this awesome company.
My passion for serving the Air Force continues to burn. I enjoy talking with young folks about opportunities in the Air Force, mentoring the troops on active duty, and wearing the uniform every chance I get. I perform enlistment ceremonies for Air Force Reserve recruiters and volunteer as a mentor for High school students. My boat is wrapped with an Air Force theme so myself and the recruiters use the boat as a display at air, boat, and outdoor shows.
My fishing hobby is now a full-fledged business. I’m a professional tournament angler. I can pursue this life long dream because my Air Force retirement income covered the business start up costs.
My Air Force career enabled me to live my dream.