When life brings you to the Air Force: SrA Briana Swesey’s story

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Abbey Rieves
  • 355th Wing Public Affairs

Briana Swesey was a small-framed woman with sandy blonde hair and had a black server apron tied tightly around her waist.

She quickly wiped a table down and hurried to greet her next table.

Ding! Order up!” A voice from the kitchen sounded off. She ran over to the cooking line.

The Florida native managed a local restaurant, waited tables, and bartended late into the night. That was until 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the service industries. 

She had been contemplating the decision to join the Air Force, the pandemic pushed her to enlist.

The now-senior airman is assigned to the 355th Comptroller Squadron as a financial service technician. 

“Senior Airman Briana Swesey is one of the hardest-working, big-A Airmen that we have at CPTS,” said Master Sgt. Julius McCray III, 355th Comptroller Squadron financial operations flight chief. “She has been exceptional at everything that she has attempted. And she has attempted a lot.”

While enlisting later in life proved challenging for Swesey, she chose helpfulness over spite.

“Enlisting later in life gives you a different perspective,” said Swesey, 26. “It allows you to counsel your peers. For my peers, rank-wise, I have more life experience than they do. So when they have questions or want to talk through something, sometimes I can provide insight.”

Swesey took her self-taught hustle from the service industry and repurposed it into her drive to be excellent, an Air Force core value, in everything she does.

“She puts in work in the office, her fitness, training, and pouring into other people,” said McCray. “She contributes heavily to the mission, and she’s exceptional at what she does.”

McCray added, “I don’t think there is anything Swesey can’t do.”

From skydiving out of a HC-130J Combat King II aircraft to working out with a pararescue team, McCray articulated the “fight” Swesey has in her.

“I am a very competitive person, and like to push myself outside of my comfort zone,” said Swesey, reflecting on her workouts with the pararescue team on base. “I thought, ‘Let me see if I stand among these people, or how much room I need to grow.’”

Swesey’s passion extends beyond her role as an active duty Airman. She also volunteers in a local Salvation Army hospitality house kitchen, serving the homeless.

Even after her Airman of the Year achievement in 2022, Swesey refused to accept credit for her win, but attributed the success to her Air Force family.

“There were a lot of people who made me great at my job,” said Swesey. “Through counseling, having a great support system, and leadership who care; I owe it to that.”