Warrior of the Week: Master Sgt. Russell Black

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  • By Public Affairs
  • Public Affairs
Master Sgt. Russell Black, 71st Flying Training Wing flight chief of weather operations, was nominated as Warrior of the Week because "he single-handedly took care of the base during the funnel-cloud incident June 17," according to his supervisor, Capt. Paul Koecher.
Sergeant Black also holds that day as one of his noteworthy achievements. In his nearly 20 years in the Air Force, he's only been able to sound the siren twice, both times since he arrived at Vance in 2003.
A TV show featuring tornado chasers in Oklahoma was what ignited Sergeant Black's interest in weather as a young man.
"At some point I saw a TV show, Nova or something, and these two guys were trying to set a barrel full of weather instruments in front of a tornado, and I said to myself, 'I want to do that,'" said the Princeton, Ind., native.
He never got to chase tornadoes, but he's observed weather all over the country and the globe. His service has taken him from Fort Riley, Kan.; to Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., where he was the weather observer for the Southwest Asia theater under U.S. Central Air Force; to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, where he supported Operations Northern Watch and Provide Comfort, and he has been in and out of Oklahoma three times. This is Sergeant Black's second time at Vance. He was also stationed at Tinker AFB once.
"I like the area, I like the people and there's good hunting," he said.
Hunting is how Sergeant Black likes to spend most of his free time, along with his other hobbies of fishing, gardening, playing classic rock tunes on his guitar and playing video games. He also likes to travel with his wife Traci and his stepson Tyler, whenever they get the chance.
Upon retirement in November, Sergeant Black hopes to return home to Indiana and work towards a second retirement in a management position with an automobile company. After that he plans to move with Traci to Jackson, Wyo., to own and operate a burger and ice cream shop.
Sergeant Black admits after retirement it may be hard finding the meaningfulness he has experienced within his Air Force career.
"I've supported more operations than you can shake a stick at," he said.
The most memorable operation to him was the long months of work following Sept. 11, 2001.
"It wasn't fun, but the purpose was good and it was the most rewarding," he said.
Sergeant Black admits that continuing a weather profession is still a possibility after the Air Force, and even if he doesn't continue with it, the weather is something he'll never quit looking at.