Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force selects Robins Airman for Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program

  • Published
  • By Kisha Foster Johnson
  • 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office

For Staff Sgt. Terrell McWilliams, a deferred dream will soon become reality.

The noncommissioned officer with the 78th Comptroller Squadron Commander Support Staff at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, was recently selected for the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program.

“I was surprised and totally not expecting it at all,” McWilliams said. “I had applied twice and didn’t get accepted, so I took it as a sign that Officer Training School was not for me. I was done with trying, but my leadership encouraged me to apply one more time.”

He did. The third time turned out to be the charm.

“The way I found out was also a surprise,” said McWilliams. “My supervisor, Maj. William Liaw, told me I needed to help inprocess someone, which is a duty I regularly perform.”

“I went to the conference room thinking I was going to meet the person and instead I saw a room filled with various leaders from the 78th Air Base Wing,” he continued. “Even with that, I was still looking for the person to inprocess.”

Then McWilliams heard a voice from the large monitor in the room.

“I heard, ‘Are you here to in process me?’” he said. “I looked over and it was Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Joanne S. Bass, and my jaw dropped. She told me I was selected for Officer Training School. I couldn’t believe it.”

Bass later gave a celebratory tweet regarding McWilliams and another Airman’s selection for OTS.

She stated, “Notifying these two leaders of their selection was the best part of my day and always gets my heart pumping!”

SLECP is a commissioning program, which enables designated Air Force senior leaders to directly select enlisted members to commission through OTS who are highly talented and exhibit exceptional performance.

The program also provides a two-track opportunity: one for enlisted members to pursue their degree while on active-duty status – SLECP-A – as well as Airmen who have already acquired their degree to directly commission through OTS -SLECP-O. McWilliams fell into the SLECP-O category.

The Yemassee, South Carolina, native has both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Journalism. He serves as the liaison between the commander, first sergeant and director, providing direct administrative support for the 78th CPTS and Wing Staff Agencies.

“Staff Sgt. McWilliams is a strong performer within not just the WSA and 78th CPTS family but within the Air Force. He is always professional with his communication, and his work ethic is phenomenal,” said Master Sgt. Tesha Martin, 78th CPTS and WSA senior enlisted leader. “He cares about the military and his Air Force family, and continually seeks self-improvement to become a better all-around person. He is truly deserving of his selection.” 

In early 2022, McWilliams put his journalism skills to work by writing an article, ‘A day in the life: Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force visits Robins’. The story recounted the time he spent with Bass during her visit to Robins back in April.

McWilliams shadowed Team 19 as they visited with various members on the installation to discuss the mission and resiliency needs of Team Robins Airmen.

“Chief Bass was down to earth,” said McWilliams. “It was neat seeing her maneuver throughout the day. She had a lot of speaking engagements, and she kept a friendly and positive demeanor the entire time. It was such a good experience.”

After OTS, McWilliams is hopeful an opportunity will open for him to work in Air Force Public Affairs.

“I enjoy serving and definitely look forward to putting all of my talents to use,” said McWilliams. “I really want to thank all of my supervisors for believing in and encouraging me.”