By Romi Carrell Wittman –
2018 Father of the Year Honoree
Master Sgt. Timothy Ledford thought he was having a family photo taken, though he didn’t quite understand why Denise, his wife, had scheduled it for a day when Davis-Monthan Air Force Base was conducting military exercises.
When he was told he’d been named one of the Father’s Day Council’s 2018 Fathers of the Year, his first reaction was, “Is this real?” Then he broke into a huge smile. “This is awesome,” he said. “I’m so thankful.”
Timothy and Denise, along with their two daughters, Brianna, 11, and Audrey, 8, have been stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base for almost two years. They moved to Tucson from Ramstein Air Base in Germany and Ledford admitted it was an adjustment.
“We landed in June wearing scarves and warm clothes,” he laughed. “But we got used to it.” He added that it helped that Tucson was a friendly and welcoming community. “Coming from Oklahoma, you know Southern hospitality. It’s true in the West as well.”
For Ledford, the Father of the Year award carries special meaning. When Ledford was growing up in Lawton, Oklahoma, his father was not involved in his life. Therefore, he’s vowed to be there for his children. “I want to give my babies what I didn’t have,” he said.
He joked that he’s the ultimate “hover dad,” always looking out for his girls. “We live across the street from the park and the girls like to play there. I’m always watching them, making sure they’re OK, seeing who they’re talking to.”
Additionally, the Ledfords have a son, Cory, 21, who will be following in his father’s footsteps. “I’m very proud of my son’s decision to join the Air Force,” the senior Ledford said. Cory lives in Fort Worth, Texas, and has enrolled in the delayed entry program for the Air Force.
There isn’t a single moment of fatherhood that stands out as the best. All of the moments are special and unique to him. “I love to see them learn, to see them love each other and to love God,” he said.
Ledford and his wife have a long tradition of taking family photos. It’s a practice that has two purposes: to remember the family as it grows and evolves, and to ensure his children have pictures to remember their dad, should something happen to him while he’s deployed.
Ledford has served in the Air Force for 20 years and Denise has been at his side the entire time. High school sweethearts, they’ve traveled all over the world as Ledford has made his way in the Air Force. As a result, Denise, who holds a master’s degree in family and child studies, has often had to put her career on hold. Ledford said that, in the next phase of their life, he’s going to take a backseat to ensure Denise pursues her career. “Wherever she wants to live and whatever she wants to pursue,” he said, “I will follow her.”
Ledford is the first sergeant for the 12th Air Force, Air Forces Southern. He is well-regarded by his peers on base and is involved in the surrounding community as well. As a first sergeant, he along with the First Sergeant Council and their airmen visit Camp Conklin, a homeless camp for veterans, at least once a month. Their team organizes food and hygiene drives and helps distribute items to the residents of the camp. On base, he’s organized boot drives, where airmen donate old boots they no longer use. They are given to the men and women living in the camp.
“We wear our uniforms when we visit our teammates at the camp. It’s important for them to know that they’re still part of the team, that they’re still part of our military family,” Ledford said.
Ledford also delivers food and other necessities to Santa Rita Park, another area with a large homeless population. “We want them to know they’re not forgotten,” he said. “I feel that if we can improve the lives of people overseas, we should also take care of our people here at home in the states.”
The commitment to helping and serving others extends to the entire Ledford family. Ledford and Denise also are active at Covenant Generations Church, where they both serve as volunteers in the children’s ministry. Ledford is preparing for an upcoming military training event in Panama. He will serve as the first sergeant for a military team focused on building schools and roads and improving medical facilities.
“He’s very humble, said Chief Master Sgt. Shanece Johnson, command chief master sergeant of the 355th Fighter Wing. “He doesn’t brag about his service to his country, the community or his family.”