The Air Power’s 12 Excellent Airmen of the Yr for 2023 can be formally acknowledged at AFA’s Air, Area & Cyber Convention from Sept. 11-13 in Nationwide Harbor, Maryland. Air & Area Forces Journal is highlighting one every weekday from now till the convention begins. At this time, we honor SrA. Kostiantyn Khymchenko (or, “KK”), an HVAC Journeyman with the 633rd Civil Engineer Squadron at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.
Khymchenko and his household are from Konotop, Ukraine, the place he was a cadet at school and served as a Ukrainian border and customs safety officer after graduating. He enlisted within the U.S. Air Power simply eight months after transferring to the U.S. in June 2019 on a diversification visa.
“All my life, I simply serve,” he stated. “After I come right here, at first, I needed [to join the] Military, however clearly when all my mates came upon I needed [to] be navy individual [they were] like, ‘No, solely Air Power.’”
In 2022, Khymchenko was chosen for deployment in help of Operation Atalas Guardian. He was solely given a day’s discover to pack and board a airplane to Germany the place, as a local Ukrainian speaker, he would lead eight translators in 50 multinational teleconferences and advise 4 basic officers on partner-nation air protection. Khymchenko additionally was a part of USAF’s “Gray Wolf Workforce,” a activity pressure at Ramstein Air Base that advises Ukraine’s air pressure on their defensive campaigns towards Russia’s invasion.
“I’m so proud and so grateful [for the Airmen and officers] who work over there proper now,” he stated. “They did wonderful job. For actual. They did every little thing prefer it was [their] native nation.”
Throughout his deployment, Khymchenko translated greater than 30 tactical maps and transmissions from Russia, intel that offered Ukraine with the situation of greater than 400 websites and 1,500 real-time missile launch alerts. His contributions and dedication elevated the survivability of 40 plane, $2 billion in belongings, and eight million lives. Khymchenko stated he was simply doing his job.
“I used to be [only] instruments [that helped],” he stated. “I attempt to construct friendship with our Ukrainian companion. And I believe I used to be profitable on this mission.”
Khymchenko stated his mission and assignments have been made infinitely extra significant as a result of as a USAF Airman, he was capable of help a rustic he referred to as residence for almost 30 years throughout its time of disaster.
“I attempted to do finest that I can do as a result of I grew up on this nation,” he stated. “I’ve plenty of mates who [fight right now] and I’ve additionally mates who die proper now … It’s very emotional. It’s virtually like emotional stress, since you wish to do one thing nice. However identical time, you can not go over there and combat to assist them. However you possibly can assist from, like, 603 AOC to assist do one thing good.”
In return for his service, each Khymchenko’s residence nation and his new one confirmed their gratitude. He was coined by each the Secretary of the Air Power Frank Kendall and Chief Grasp Sergeant of the Air Power JoAnne Bass, and he was introduced with the Ukraine Help Medal by Ukraine’s Grand Minister of Protection Oleksii Reznikov. After they referred to as Khymchenko’s title on the ceremony to come back on stage and settle for the award, he stated he was shocked on the gratitude Reznikov confirmed him.
“I used to be so stunned, for actual. I simply forgot every little thing,” he stated. “In Ukraine, while you get some awards, that you must salute, shake, take. However right here it’s completely different. You must shake, take, salute. And after I tried [to] salute when he gave me the award, and he started [to] hug me, I used to be so confused. … It was an excellent reminiscence [of] this mission.”
Stateside at Langley in his common responsibility as an HVAC Journeyman, Khymchenko was named Wing Airman of the Quarter for the second quarter of 2022 for his management with 12 engineers to finish 742 jobs and reply to 36 emergencies, together with the safety of a $10 million ISR server farm. His management earned him one other coin, this one from the commander of Air Fight Command.
“Each time after I go to job, I attempt to repair every little thing,” Khymchenko stated. “Generally I keep late. Generally if I can not repair it, after I come again residence, I can not sleep as a result of [I’m still thinking] in regards to the job. … It doesn’t matter if it’s some server, or it’s dorms, or it’s car upkeep—[it’s all] necessary, as a result of our major job: maintain Airmen.”
When he considers his newest award of distinction as one of many 12 Excellent Airmen of 2023, Khymchenko stated he’s honored, however he additionally feels unhealthy as a result of there have been so many different folks—fellow enlisted Airmen, different members of the Gray Wolf Workforce, and his management—who have been doing nice work proper alongside him.
“And in addition, all of my commanders right here. I simply did, like, 30 p.c of this award—my management [did the rest],” he stated. “And I so admire all of the help.”
“[But] I wish to thank my spouse to begin with, as a result of after I went to deploy to Germany, [she took] care of our children, and it was very arduous,” Khymchenko added. Impressed by his mannequin of service, his spouse Dariia joined the Air Power in 2022. An Airman First Class, Dariia Khymchenko is a Contracting Specialist with the 633rd Contracting Squadron alongside her husband at Langley.
Meet the opposite Excellent Airmen of the Yr for 2023 beneath: