A Letter from DoD STARBASE Oklahoma Graduate, Airman First Class Andrew Pranger

As the son of a military mom and military dad, I had many opportunities to be involved in activities at the Tulsa Air National Guard Base during my school-age years.  My parents, sister and I lived just outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the small town of Mannford. I grew up on a small acreage, raised animals and participated in showing livestock.  I loved helping my dad work on cars, tinkering with them even today!

STARBASE Oklahoma offered programs specifically for military families during the summer. I jumped at the chance to go and my sister assisted with the class.  I attended DoD STARBASE in 2008 while in the 5th grade.  I loved taking things apart, seeing how they worked and then trying to figure out how it all went back together. My curiosity always got the best of me when we built the model rockets at DoD STARBASE.   I tried to make sure it was put together well and was well balanced.   I knew the lighter it was, the higher it would go. So, in order to make it fly higher, I limited any trimmings.  I tried to see if there was a way to achieve more power from the one engine and thought about what difference it might make if I mounted two…. This was one of my favorite memories.  And, I learned that this curiosity of mine was a big part of something called the Engineering Design Process. Yes, I had a love for military, the planes and DoD STARBASE Oklahoma!

Upon graduation from high school, I thought about what my choices were and what I could do with this passion I had for the military and planes.  How could I use the knowledge and inspiration I had gained from DoD STARBASE Oklahoma? I decided to enlist in the United States Air Force with hopes of working on airplanes. My dream came true at my first duty station, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, as a crew chief on the F-35 aircraft.

My job at Nellis is to maintain the aircraft, which is still in a testing phase, making improvements and investigating ways to increase the power output.  As I sat through the training to become a crew chief, I kept thinking about how the concepts I had experienced in the DoD STARBASE classes were coming full circle.

Learning about the STEM career fields is a must in today’s society. I cannot think of any career where STEM doesn’t play a part.  Participating in activities as a team contributes to being able to work together as team in your career and broadening the think tank with a variety of ideas and inventions.  I believe in DoD STARBASE and know that it played an invaluable part in my future.



Andrew J. Pranger

Posted August 2018

Airman First Class Andrew Pranger