• Published
  • By SrA Alexis Morris
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Senior Airman Miranda Simon, 28th Force Support Squadron force management technician, has been cheering for as long as she can remember. “In the first grade, I looked at my mom and said I want to be a cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys. I ended up cheering all-star seventh grade through senior year,” Simon shared while reflecting on her life-long journey with cheer. Now as a coach for multiple local youth cheer teams and a cheerleader with the Rapid City Marshals’ football team, Simon credits the sport as a catalyst for finding her community while serving at Ellsworth.

After arriving at Ellsworth, the young airman struggled to feel deeply connected to the base and surrounding communities. A conversation with a fellow airman empowered Simon to involve herself in the local Rapid City, S.D. community. She reached out to gyms within the local area and began coaching cheer. “When I walked into that gym for the first time, it was like a breath of fresh air,” Simon recalled.

It was only a few months after her decision to begin coaching that one of her new-found friends encouraged her to tryout for the Marshals. In turn, Simon would consequently persuade one of her coworkers, Airman 1st Class Marious Freeman, 28th Force Support Squadron assignments technician, to tryout and become involved in the community too.

Simon and Freeman initially bonded over their shared experience as high school cheerleaders from Tennessee. After weeks of friendly banter about the opportunity with the Marshals, she eventually approached Freeman at his desk and asked him to quickly jot down his email into her phone. Preoccupied, he entered his email without a second thought before questioning the purpose. “As she walked away, she said, ‘You just signed up for tryouts. I’ll see you there,” recalled Freeman. The two would go to be selected for two of the 15 slots amongst 67 contenders.

In addition to gaining connections within the local community, their involvement with the Marshals has also allowed the duo to dispel misconceptions and provide clarity on the realities of military life. “We’re making sure that people know that there’s a difference between the Air Force and Army,” Freeman joked, “Everyone thinks we’re Army, but we did educate everyone and told them that the entire Air Force does not fly planes.”

Now, at the of the 2023 Marshals season, the two FSS airmen are preparing to blend their cheer and military lives on the red-turfed football field inside The Monument events center one last time during a Military Appreciation Night on Saturday, May 20.  “I’m excited for the game and kind of sad as it’s our last one,” Simon said, “But I’m excited because it’s about the military and the team’s leadership genuinely care and support it.”

As this shared chapter of their lives comes to a natural end, Simon and Freeman look back on the season with immense joy and relief. “Your career does not have to take over your entire life, so get out there,” Simon encouraged. When asked for advice that they would give airmen who may feel isolated upon arrival to a new base, Freeman added, “You might not hit the target on the first round but keep throwing yourself out there. You will find something that you like, love to do, or have a niche for, and it will help.”