Col. Kimberlee Joos trains new members of the Air Force as commander of the 17th Training Wing. After graduating from Southeast Missouri State University in 1991 with an undergraduate degree in psychology, she has since progressed through the Air Force ranks. Joos, who was promoted to the rank of Colonel in September 2011, assumed command of the 17th Training Wing and installation commander of Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas in a ceremony on May 29.
“Every Airman – meaning every single man and woman wearing an Air Force uniform – has an amazing story, if you spend some time getting to know them,” Joos said.
Born in St. Louis but raised mostly in Cape Girardeau and Kelso, Mo., Joos now lives on the Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas.
As commander of the 17th Training Wing, she is responsible for 2,500 personnel, who are located in four different locations in the United States. Those 2,500 people are responsible for caring for and training more than 14,000 students per year.
“We need to make every one of the 14,000 students who are trained here each year better than when they arrived – able to contribute as quickly as possible when they show up at their first operational assignment following graduation,” Joos said. “I also hope to motivate these new members of the military. Sometimes in the day-to-day tasks, we lose sight of how fortunate we are to get a chance to serve our country and meet some incredibly special people in the process.”
She oversees the training center at her base, which trains all the Department of Defense firefighters and hazardous material response teams. It is also responsible for all the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance training for all Air Force officers and enlisted members, as well as a portion of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.
Joos also is responsible for the base, facilities and resources needed to make sure the training center runs smoothly. She coordinates interaction with residents of the city of San Angelo by regularly interacting with the mayor, the president of its Chamber of Commerce and other elected officials, who, Joos said, provide wonderful support to the mission of Goodfellow Air Force Base.
Joos has served on active duty for over 21 years. Her level of responsibility has increased with each assignment, and she said she’s also had great mentors along the way.
Joos was a member of the ROTC program at Southeast, and said her first professor of Aerospace Studies was Lt. Col. Wayne Wallingford, now a Missouri state senator. As she progressed through the ROTC ranks, she gained more responsibility, since the upper-class cadets were the leaders in the ROTC Corps of Cadets.
“I realized then I liked the challenge and responsibility of leading people, and learning how to take care of and motivate them. I just do it on a much larger scale now,” Joos said.
She also gives most of the credit for her success to her parents, Jimmy and Leona Jones. Her father considered himself a lifetime Cape Girardeau resident. He attended College High, enrolled at Southeast for a few years and then enlisted in the Air Force just after the Korean War.
“He served for four years as a B-29 radio operator and is probably the biggest inspiration that led me to join the Air Force,” Joos said. “My mom was raised on a farm near Kelso, Mo., and taught me the value of common sense and hard work.”
She also said Southeast provided the ground work for her future successes in her academic career, and her professors really broadened her horizons and established a great foundation of critical thinking as she went on to pursue other degrees.
“Southeast provided me with the solid foundation of a good liberal arts education,” Kim said. “I started my first graduate program at Georgetown University in 1994, and was worried that my academic training from Southeast wouldn’t make me competitive with students from so many other, highly regarded institutions of learning. What I found is that Southeast prepared me very well, and I would recommend a four-year degree from Southeast to anyone as a good foundation for either employment, or continued graduate-level education.”
Joos later earned a Master of Arts in Security Studies from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., in 2002, a Master of Military Operational Art and Science from Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama in 2006 and a Master of Arts in National Resource Strategy from the Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., in 2011. Her awards include the Defense Special Service Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with five oak leaf clusters, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Air Force Achievement Medal.
She has traveled all over the world, due to her position in the military, and has been stationed twice in Japan, and once in Korea, Germany and Saudi Arabia. She has gone on other, short-term trips to Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
“I consider my ability to see the world and work with some amazing allies to be a very exciting part of my service, too,” Joos said.
She said even though she loves traveling, and despite traveling all over the world, she still loves Missouri and has not found a better place than southeast Missouri to live.
“I am still a diehard St. Louis Cardinals fan, and find ways to watch their games all over the world, even if they are happening in the middle of the night,” Joos said.
To Southeast students, Joos offers some advice.
“Stick with it, and get a degree in something you like within four or five years. Life goes by so fast. Getting a degree behind you sets you up well for so many other opportunities that just aren’t offered to people who haven’t completed that first undergraduate degree,” Joos said.