U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Demarris Strong, 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron flight sergeant, is a leader known for her passion when it comes to her Airmen as well as her willingness to fight for them. However, balance is key in this pursuit.
“A lot of my biggest obstacles have been knowing how to fight and when to fight, and when not to,” Strong said.
Living up to her name, Strong has spent 11 years in the Air Force protecting the base and enforcing the law.
Strong is approachable, transparent and honest with an excellent work ethic, said her 569th USFPS flight chief, Master Sgt. Nakoma Pratt.
Pratt has known Strong through family ties since she was 13.
“She’ll tell you what you need to hear; she won’t sugarcoat it,” Pratt said. “She’s displayed those qualities since she was a kid. It’s not just military; this is her life.”
Strong’s qualities have carried her through the challenges of a police officer’s life, such as responding to domestic assaults, traffic incidents and suicides, all while operating in a male-dominated environment. Through it all, she has emerged as a leader whose biggest investments and victories are her personnel.
“She’s not afraid to fall on a sword for people,” Pratt said. “She’ll sit back and reflect whether she needs to put herself on the line for someone. Nine times out of 10 she will, but she has a good balance.”
Finding that balance has been one of the biggest challenges and most important lessons for Strong. Early in her career, Strong learned from leaders who fought for her – a trait she strives to embody for her Airmen.
“I always thought everyone deserved to have someone fight for them tooth and nail,” Strong said. “What I learned was, if you fight for everyone all the time then at the times when it really matters, no one listens. If you fight for everyone, you lose credibility.”
However, she learned that she needed to choose her battles wisely and not everything required a fight.
“I’ve taught myself to reserve my fight for the ones who deserve to be fought for,” Strong said.
Although Strong has learned which fights to choose, she never leaves any of her Airmen or personnel on the sidelines.
“She’s the epitome of what a leader is,” Pratt said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, if you come to her door and tell her about your issue, she’ll drop everything she’s doing.”
Though Strong does not always fight, she strives to support all her Airmen. She uses her experiences as a female Defender to mentor other females on topics such as how to watch their appearance, staying focused on careers, and seeing the big picture.
“From day one, you need to put your all into what you do so that when and if you come across any obstacles, people want to fight for you and take your side,” Strong said.
Seeing the need for women to network and support each other, Strong created the Lady Eagle Association.
“Men are welcome to come to the meetings, but I started the Lady Eagles to give women in this career field a place to discuss challenges that are specific to them,” Strong said.
The Lady Eagles allows Strong to instill the principles she has learned in future Airmen.
“They need to come ready to give their all and do their best daily for the mission and their superiors, but ultimately for themselves,” Strong said. “They need to be the Airmen who are worth the fight.”
Becoming a military training instructor is something Strong is passionately pursuing. If her application is accepted, this would be another platform she can use to shape the Air Force’s newest members. Whether or not she is accepted as an MTI, she plans to continue using her passion, compassion and balance to shape tomorrow’s Airmen.