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Icemen born abroad: Senior Airman Michael Drinkwater

U.S Air Force Senior Airman Michael Drinkwater, a 354th Contracting Squadron contract specialist, poses for a photo April 17, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Drinkwater was originally born in England but his family later moved to the United States where he joined the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Eric M. Fisher)

U.S Air Force Senior Airman Michael Drinkwater, a 354th Contracting Squadron contract specialist, poses for a photo April 17, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Drinkwater was originally born in England but his family later moved to the United States where he joined the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Eric M. Fisher)

A young Michael Drinkwater, now a U.S. Air Force Senior Airman assigned to the 354th Contracting Squadron as a contract specialist, poses for a photo in England, where he was born. Drinkwater has since become a U.S. citizen and is stationed at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. (Courtesy Photo)

A young Michael Drinkwater, now a U.S. Air Force Senior Airman assigned to the 354th Contracting Squadron as a contract specialist, poses for a photo in England, where he was born. Drinkwater has since become a U.S. citizen and is stationed at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. (Courtesy Photo)

Michael Drinkwater sits on the back of a horse next to his mother in Texas. At 12 years old, Drinkwater and his family moved to Texas, where he lived until he joined the Air Force. (Courtesy Photo)

Michael Drinkwater sits on the back of a horse next to his mother in Texas. At 12 years old, Drinkwater and his family moved to Texas, where he lived until he joined the Air Force. (Courtesy Photo)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --

Whether it’s a permanent change of station, general moving from one neighborhood to another, or large painstaking moves to entirely different parts of the globe, moving is almost always a challenge for anyone.

For some Airmen, those challenges were faced long before their decision to serve. Senior Airman Michael Drinkwater’s experiences with moving began at a young age.

“I grew up in a military family. Both of my parents were Royal Air Force, so we moved a lot,” said Drinkwater, a 354th Contracting Squadron contract specialist.

At age 12 Drinkwater found himself on a flight across the Atlantic heading to his new home in Fort Worth, Texas.

“There weren’t any real language barriers moving to the U.S., but it was a huge culture shock, especially being in Texas,” Drinkwater said.

Once Drinkwater graduated high school, he wanted to go to college to become a paramedic, but he never had the motivation to pursue it. Instead, he decided to follow his family’s tradition of service to their country.

“I’d been living in Texas for six years when I decided to join the U.S. Air Force,” said Drinkwater. “I considered the United States my home already, and was working toward my citizenship, so there really wasn’t a second thought about it.”

After going to meet with a recruiter, Drinkwater’s job options within the Air Force were limited because he wasn’t a U.S. citizen yet and couldn’t qualify for the proper clearances. He didn’t let this barrier stop him and eventually decided to sign up as a contractor.

“I didn’t want contracting; I didn’t want a desk job, but as an English citizen my job list was very short,” Drinkwater explained. “Although I didn’t want contracting initially, I’m very thankful for the experience. The hours are great and though it’s not physically challenging, mentally it can be difficult. The fact that it is mentally engaging is what I like most about the career field.”

Despite not wanting to be a contractor, Drinkwater has learned his trade and excelled among those in the contracting squadron.

“In order to succeed in this career field you have to have a lot of self-motivation and discipline, you have to be willing to read into different federal regulations and you have to build enough rapport with your customers in order to gain a better understanding of what they need,” said Tech. Sgt Cheyenne Youngbird, a 354th Contracting Squadron contracting officer. “Drinkwater does those things; he’s very passionate about learning the regulations to better serve our customers.”

Drinkwater will soon be moving on to his next duty station, where he’ll be expected to perform just as well as he does here.

“He’s going off to Spain; I know someone over there, and I’ve really hyped him up because I know he’ll be able to live up to it. I set my expectations here pretty high,” said Youngbird. “When you’re spending tax payer money, you have to be able to justify your decision making and Drinkwater definitely does that.”

Drinkwater’s travels have lead him from one place to another, but it’s clear he’s found a home in the U.S. Air Force as a dedicated and hardworking contracting specialist.