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Eureka Woman Named Missouri Air Guard Senior NCO of Year

This is the first-such honor for Shawn Tamborski, 49, a single mother of five children, two of whom also serve in the Air Guard.

Eureka resident, Master Sgt. Shawn Tamborski, was named the 2012 Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year for the Missouri Air National Guard. 

“I am very pleased and very proud,” stated Tamborski in an announcement. She is a 16-year Air Guard veteran, who serves with the 239th Combat Communications Squadron, headquartered at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

Tamborski was among three noncommissioned officers being considered for the senior NCO of the year honor. The selection is based on recommendations from a candidate’s commanding officer, the ability to pass a fitness test and a grueling interview before a board of one’s peers.

The daughter of an Air Force veteran, Tamborski was born in Fort Walton Beach, FL, and attended Choctawhatchee High School. After earning a home economics degree at Texas Tech University, she got married and moved to Missouri, where she went back to school, eventually earning a paralegal degree.

“My sister-in-law and two of my brother-in-laws served in the Missouri National Guard, and I used to attend their Family Day events,” stated Tamborski. “Then my (then) husband suggested that I enlist since I grew up with the military. I was 33 years old, and we had three kids, but that’s exactly what I did. It was rough on my oldest child, but it was also among the best decisions I have ever made in my life.”

Despite the separation from her family, Tamborski found military life familiar; even easy at times.

“Basic training was easier than I thought it would be,” she said. “I was one of only three recruits over 30 years old, but I thought if I can raise kids, I can do this.”

Tamborski began her Air Guard career in 1996 with the 157th Air Operations Group. In 2000, she joined the 131st Fighter Wing, and from July 2011 to Jan. 2012 she was deployed to Afghanistan as a paralegal, training members of the Afghan National Army.

Looking back, Tamborski said her success has come from a combination of maturity and determination.

“If I had joined the Guard right out of high school, I could retire right now, but I don’t think my career would be where it is,” she said. “I learned a lot in college and I think being more mature paid off. I’ve done a lot in my career and I have no regrets.”

Tamborski now works full-time as the Missouri Air Guard’s senior paralegal for inspections and readiness and as the administrative NCO for the 239th. 

Tamborski’s son, Senior Airman Clarence Tamborski, and daughter, Airman 1st Class Rebecca Tamborski, serve with the 131st Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base. Her other children include Alex, 18, Joel, 14 and Saranae, 12. 

Master Sgt. Tamborski is the daughter of retired Lt. Col. George M. Tamborski and Jan Collier, of Chesterfield.

The 239th Combat Communications Squadron is a subordinate unit of the 131st Bomb Wing, headquartered at Whiteman Air Force Base, near Knob Noster, MO.

Editor's Note:  Patch appreciates the details provided by Bill Phelan, public affairs representative, 70th Troop Command, Missouri National Guard.

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