SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- The
moment Khennan Richards knew he needed to turn his life around came when he saw
his younger brother trying to join the same gang he was a member of.
an Airman 1st Class with the 375th Force Support Squadron, said he didn’t want
that type of lifestyle for his brother. Seeing his brother begin to go down the
same path he did made him realize he needed to be a better example for his
some things I’m not proud of,” Richards explained. “I’m happy that I got away
from that environment because it wasn’t leading me anywhere positive.”
up, Richards said his mom and three siblings bounced around from
home to home; at times they lived with grandparents or out of their car. They
received both food stamps and section eight housing, both programs the
government has for low-income individuals designed to provide them with basic
food and shelter.
childhood was rough; my mom was a single parent raising four kids with me being
the oldest ... I was always accountable for them,” said Richards. “My mom was
struggling trying to raise us by herself. I remember we eventually got an
apartment but we didn’t have any food in the refrigerator. We ate bread and
syrup ... or syrup sandwiches.”
growing up, Richards was surrounded by gang members, and it wasn’t long before
he joined one himself.
kind of just adapted to my environment and basically blended in to it,” said
Richards. “We stayed right in the middle of the hood, and so I knew everybody
and everybody knew us. They’d call when they were walking by the house and say
‘what’s up auntie’ because they would call my mom auntie.”
he decided to leave the gang he took the advice of friends who had served in
the Air Force, and decided to join up.
he’s joined the Air Force, Richards has been successfully working in the
Official Mail Center, and is responsible for processing an average of 323,000
pieces of mail and over 250 pounds in packages each year.
supervisor, Staff Sgt. Corey Alexander Bratcher, said, “Airman Richards is a
floor lead here at the official mail center, which means we have given him more
responsibility than his duty title holds.
the time I’ve supervised him he has been the go-to Airman, he still processes
and delivers mail just like all the other Airmen here, but he is the (liaison)
between the Airmen in the shop and the noncommissioned officers.”
said Richards is someone who leads by example.
Richards embodies the Air Force’s core values by being an example to all the
Airmen in the OMC,” Bratcher said. “He definitely has the ability to become a
great supervisor one day and with his ‘service before self’ attitude, he will
definitely continue to be someone who is valued.”
said hopes to complete his enlistment and achieve the rank of technical
sergeant in the next five years. He said he aspires to be the best leader he
can be for his siblings and his future Airmen, which is something he said the
Air Force is helping him to achieve.
addition, his brother did not join the gang, and he is now on the honor roll at
his school and hopes to join the Air Force one day, too ... just like his