Fitness NCO brings smiles to deployed Airmen

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Melanie Holochwost
  • 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
This NCO is always there. If you're feeling down, she will comfort you. If you're eating by yourself, she will sit by you, and, if you're looking to improve your fitness, she'll whip your body into shape. She is ... the ultimate wingman.

Meet Staff Sgt. Sokum Ouk, a 332nd Expeditionary Force Support Squadron fitness journeyman who is deployed from Langley Air Force Base, Va. Her positive attitude, energetic personality and kindness can naturally bring a smile to a person's face.

"My goal is to make at least one person a day smile," Ouk said. "If I can get 20 or 30 smiles, that's even better. I get my high off of seeing people happy."

Although her job is aimed at keeping Airmen in shape, Ouk said she's also focused on morale.

"Morale is so important at a deployed location because we don't have our families and friends to lean on," she said. "Here, we are each other's family. So, if I don't see you at the gym, I'll find you at the dining hall, recreation center or just walking around the base, and I will make you smile."

With this positive attitude and genuine care for others, it doesn't come as much of a surprise that she has won several awards. Most recently, she was named 'Airman of the Year' by the 633rd Force Support Squadron at Langley AFB.

Ouk is a superstar, according to Lt. Col. Sara Custer, the 332nd EFSS commander.

"She is helpful, friendly and always involved in making the base better," Custer said. "On top of that, she is a wonderful mentor to our junior Airmen because she understands them. She has blossomed into an extraordinary NCO, and I am blessed to have her as a member of my team."

Looking back on her career, Ouk said it hasn't always been a cup of tea.

"I've been in my fair share of trouble," she said. "At one point, I lost a stripe and had to spend 30 days in military confinement because I made a poor decision with my government travel card."

With the help of good leadership, Ouk said she was able to bounce back from her mistakes.

"I was very fortunate to have one or two people who didn't write me off as a bad Airman," she said. "They gave me good advice and time off when I really needed it. When I was ready, they gave me opportunities to shine. Before I knew it, they were putting me in for awards."

Ouk said she uses this story to mentor others who have hit a rough patch in their careers.

"I want to be like the senior NCOs who helped me when I was in need," she said. "Without them, I wouldn't be the person I am today."