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Master Sgt. Zachary White: From Air Force Service to a Tillman Scholar

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Hunter Lavigne, Space Launch Delta 30 Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Zachary White, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron deputy fire chief, recently achieved an academic milestone. Graduating from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University this past May with a master's degree in emergency services and maintaining a stellar 4.0 grade point average, White's achievement is made even more remarkable with the support of the Pat Tillman Foundation, which recognized him as a 2022 Tillman Scholar.

The Tillman Scholars program supports active-duty service members, veterans, and military spouses by investing in them through education, lifelong leadership development, and a global community of high-performing peers and mentors. 

"Being selected as a Tillman Scholar is a humbling honor that goes far deeper than the scholarship itself," White said. "The responsibility and expectation to put service before self, be a lifelong learner, lead by example with humility, better the world through teamwork, and never give anything less than your best.”

White's journey toward academic and professional excellence was sparked by a life-altering experience at the age of 17. On a foggy night near Winston-Salem, North Carolina, he found himself in a situation that would forever change his life. A car lost control and crashed, and White, unable to help, vowed never to be ill-prepared in a life-or-death situation again.

With unwavering determination, White began his career as a civilian firefighter in North Carolina, eventually joining the U.S. Air Force as a fire protection apprentice. Over the past 11 years, he has served in various locations, from Guam to Oman, and has been stationed at Vandenberg Space Force Base for nearly two years.

In his current role, White and his team provide essential emergency services for Vandenberg's space operation mission. He views this assignment as an unparalleled opportunity to devise innovative strategies in response to the ever-expanding realm of space operations on the base.

"I have witnessed the growing needs of the fire service as we prepare for the anticipated expansion of space operations at Vandenberg Space Force Base in the years ahead," White stated with enthusiasm. "Working alongside rockets and comprehending the significance of each launch is an incredibly rewarding experience."