FORT BELVOIR, Va. –
Amanda Amaya awoke one morning in May 2003 wanting a different future than the one she’d plotted with high school friends whose pictures veiled her bedroom mirror.
“I literally woke up and said to myself, ‘I’m going to join the Air Force’ then went to a recruiter and signed up that very day. I didn’t tell anybody until after I did it,” she said. “My mom cried for a year.”
Amaya is still surprising friends and family. In December, she joined the 1% of airmen promoted to chief master sergeant, and she was recently named the 2021 Outstanding Logistics Readiness Staff Enlisted Member of the Year for the Air Force District of Washington.
As the top enlisted airmen on the Defense Logistics Agency’s Air Force National Account Manager team, Amaya analyzes readiness rates of 4,000 weapons systems and works with DLA’s supply chain managers to reserve negative trends. If material availability rates dip below 90% for an aircraft part, for example, she works with DLA Aviation to figure out why and find other ways to fulfill requirements.
“Logistics is like a puzzle,” she said. “You’ve got to do a lot of digging and analyzing metrics to find out what’s actually going on to support the warfighters.”
The 37-year-old said she feels blessed with opportunities as a woman in uniform but confessed she’s sometimes faced undue scrutiny and discrimination from the men she’s served with. A male supervisor once told her women didn’t belong in the military. He assigned her the job of loading and hauling 150-pound C-5 Galaxy tires on her own. Instead of complaining the work was too strenuous, Amaya hit the gym.
“I got stronger and was able to roll those tires on the truck with no problem,” she said. “Looking back on it now, I know that supervisor wanted to see me fail.”
That experience and others where she felt like just another body helped mold her into a leader who cares for others, she added. Being the highest-ranking enlisted Air Force member at DLA makes Amaya the senior enlisted advisor to 140-plus active duty and reserve enlisted airmen, and she also leads enlisted promotion panels.
“That means I have some influence on whether or not an airman is recommended for promotion,” she said.
She counsels those who aren’t recommended so they know how to improve their chances on the next round.
“I don’t have to do that, but I know it’s something I would’ve appreciated because there were times in my career when I was passed over and didn’t get any feedback on why,” she said.
Air Force Col. Luther King, military deputy executive director of operations, said Amaya goes beyond expectations to take care of people. When the new home of an airmen assigned to DLA Headquarters was destroyed by a tornado in August, Amaya reached out to make sure they had help with everything from transportation and childcare to clothing. “She’s phenomenal at blending her passion for the job and care and concern for people,” King said. “She understands you can’t get the mission done without people and you’ve got to take care of those people.”
Amaya is married to an active-duty airman at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., and they have two daughters, 5-month-old Lucianna and 3-year-old Madison. Juggling service commitments and a family can be overwhelming and emotionally draining, she said, but the couple shares responsibilities. Family members also help. Madison was just 1 when Amaya deployed to Kuwait and her husband deployed to Qatar.
“My family wrapped their arms around us and helped us take care of Madison. They’ve made so many sacrifices to support our profession, and we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them,” she said.