Small town boy, big time dreams

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

He grew up in rural Illinois; the closest town in either direction was 15 minutes away. Farm land stretched for miles on end. It was the kind of area where everyone knew each other.

At the age of 18, Adam Shanks moved to the East Coast. Searching for a future, an adventure, he thought about joining the Air Force.

“After high school, I moved away from home to experience something new,” said Shanks. “After about a year, I thought about my future and decided to pursue something greater than myself.”

In late 2014, Shanks began the Air Force application online. He met a recruiter and started the process of enlistment.

“I planned on doing 4 years, and then possibly getting out,” said Shanks. “I wanted to try it out, see how I liked it and see the world.”

In July of 2015, 19-year-old Shanks, shipped off to basic military training with an open general contract and dreams of an adventure.

After months of training, this small town guy finally made it to MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, as a trained photojournalist in March of 2016.

“Tampa is a big change from home,” said Shanks. “There are more people to meet, and more places to go out and see. Living here is an adventure with new things to do every day.”

His military path has not only set him on a journey, it has changed him as a person.

“The military has taught me to be more selfless,” explained Shanks. “I have learned that the military is one big family, and we need to help each other out.”

Shanks went on to say that the military has helped him become less introverted and a better communicator. The skills he has picked up in the military have crossed over into his work life.

"Airman Shanks is a hard worker," said Senior Airman Bradley Tipton, a broadcaster with the 6th Air Mobility Wing. “He pushes himself to try new things; he isn't afraid to get out there."

The original “four year and get out Airman” has now changed his goals. He plans on continuing to serve his country for the next 20 years with hopes of becoming a chief or a commissioned officer.

Shanks started off as a small town boy but has now grown into an American Airman whose journey has just begun.