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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | Jan. 19, 2024

12 Outstanding Airmen of the year: Theodore Sebsibe

By Senior Airman Daekwon Stith | 316th Wing Public Affairs

The Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2023 were formally recognized at last year's Air, Space & Cyber Conference hosted by the Air and Space Forces Association in National Harbor, Maryland. Tech. Sgt. Theodore Sebsibe was honored with one of these awards during the conference.  

Sebsibe is assigned to the 316th Civil Engineer Squadron, leading two sections and 35 engineers. His responsibilities include overseeing continuous maintenance and upgrades for the base’s electrical distribution system that supports 512 facilities valued at $5.6 billion and serving 26,000 personnel. This earned him recognition in the form of a coin from the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman. 

"To be honest, initially, I wasn't going to submit for the awards because what I truly love and feel passionate about is simply taking care of my people," Sebsibe remarked when he was first recommended for the award. However, influenced by his mentors and leaders who wanted to ensure he received recognition, he eventually decided submit for this prestigious award. 

“I was very grateful and it’s amazing you know, being able to do my job as a civil engineer, leading our team, and deploying multiple times—I take pride in these daily responsibilities. Being recognized for this is something I hold dear to my heart.” 

This award is not Sebsibe’s first accolade in his Air Force journey. His record boasts several significant awards, underscoring his capabilities as a multi-capable Airman. He was also the command team’s preferred choice to step in as the Civil Engineer Squadron first sergeant for 60 days. 

"Being reliable and a people person, already excelling well beyond his grade, he encompassed all the qualities we sought in a first sergeant. Personally, there was no better fit," shared Chief Master Sgt. James Pope, 316th Civil Engineer Squadron senior enlisted leader, reflecting on the decision to appoint him as the new first sergeant. 

During this time, he supported a 504-person squadron by executing five professional military education seminars, advising the squadron commander through 24 administrative actions, and resolving numerous family advocacy cases to help enhance  the quality of life for Airmen. 

"Initially, I was very nervous about taking the position, but one valuable lesson I learned while in that seat was to instill hope in our members seeking help. Being that guiding light in their darkest moments—I can't guarantee immediate solutions, but guaranteeing you're not alone, and ensuring that your going to get what you need." 

For someone to achieve this level of accomplishment, there is usually a drive that gives them the motivation. For Sebsibe, he was honest in admitting he did not have that in his early Air Force career and just wanted to do his job and go home. However, he said his biggest motivation to achieve more came from his wife. 

“She’s the one that pushed me as far as going to school and saying hey, we need to make sure that you're going to be great because she saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself,” he lamented. 

Speaking from that mindset and understanding where other Airmen come from, Sebsibe shared a few more thoughts on getting to this achievement and what he felt was most important. 

“It's going to sound cliché... but it’s all about the importance of knowing your people. We say it all the time, but it needs to be understood and valued... being a leader is not about being in charge, it’s about being responsible for the people that are in your charge.”