HILL AIR FORCE BASE – Hill’s National American Indian Heritage Month spotlight this week is Airman 1st Class Justin Keahbone with the 75th Logistics Readiness Squadron’s Air Transportation Function.
Keahbone is part of the Kiowa tribe and grew up in Anadarko, Oklahoma, the self-titled “Indian capital of the nation.”
“Having this heritage makes me proud in various ways,” Keahbone said. “Having such a rich culture and knowing that it’s rich with traditions makes me proud to be Kiowa.”
One of the traditional activities Keahbone enjoys about the Kiowa culture is the art of dance and song.
“I like to participate in what is known as the Gourd Dance,” he said. “It was given to my tribe by the Red Wolf and is taught by various members on how to dance and sing the many songs that coincide with the dance.
Military heritage runs deep with Keahbone, who is a fifth-generation military member which makes him proud to follow in a line of family members who have served.
“Some of my heritage is very unique,” he said. “We have a military member and veteran war society known as Ton-Kon-Gah (tone con guh) or the Black Leggings Society, named for how the legs of the war party would look after battle.”
Members of Keahbone's family have been part of the society for generations dating back to his great-great grandfather.
Joining the Air Force was a natural fit for Keahbone because he said he wanted to serve his country like his brothers, father and many other relatives who came before him.
As an air transportation specialist, Keahbone processes cargo and passengers. He uploads and downloads aircraft and instruct units throughout the base on how to deploy and redeploy themselves.
He said the hardest part of the job is working the crazy hours needed to take care of the planes and the physicality of being a “port dawg,” but the best part is being a member of his team.
“There’s never a dull moment in the shop, from working 12-hour shifts to professional development, we are all involved no matter what,” he said. “No day at the office is ever the same. Each day makes me the happiest because I am never stuck on repeat.”
Having spent most of his life in Oklahoma, Keahbone said he really enjoys the outdoor adventures at Hill AFB.
“I enjoy Hill’s gorgeous scenery,” he said. “Waking up and seeing the mountains is very different from waking up and just seeing the blue sky. My team at the ATF is another reason why I love it here at Hill. Everyone in my shop is always trying to better one another and they always have my back.”
Keahbone said he’s proud to be Native American and proud to follow in his family’s heritage of military service.
“The most satisfying thing about being an Airman is I know what I am doing is saving people and protecting my loved ones as well,” he said.