Reserve Airman selected as Trooper of Year at local post

  • Published
  • By Amanda Dick
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

With headlights on and overhead lights still flashing blue, an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper sits in his cruiser finishing notes from the traffic stop he just conducted.

Once done, the trooper clicks his seat belt in place – seconds later, he feels like a bomb went off as everything goes dark, and he’s tossed around in his cruiser.

Once settled but feeling disoriented, the dashboard lights come back on, and he calls for help from emergency services over his radio.

The trooper squeezes out of the door of his cruiser and rushes to the car that hit him, but he can’t see anything due to smoke and airbag propellant filling the inside of the vehicle.

As he pries the door open to get to the driver, the trooper provides what support he can and waits for emergency services to arrive as he feels the driver’s life begin to drift away.

The trooper sustains minor injuries, and four months later while conducting a traffic violation stop, he hears a crash behind him, turning to see a Jeep coming toward him as it’s pushed by a semi, smoke billowing off the tires. The trooper runs toward the nearby fence, narrowly escaping as the Jeep collides with his cruiser.

While this might seem like an episode of a current cop show, these were two back-to-back incidents in 2021 for Trooper Ryan Lamarr, who was selected as the 2022 Trooper of the Year for the Wapakoneta Post, which covers Auglaize and Mercer Counties in Ohio.

“Nominees are judged on team leadership, followership, ethical decision making, and how much they go above and beyond what average troopers do day-to-day,” said Lt. John Westerfield, Wapakoneta Post post commander.

Lamarr’s selection came down to his character.

“I think it has a lot to do with who Trooper Lamarr is,” Westerfield explained. “Ryan is one of those guys who is the first to be of help and the last to leave the post. He is a likeable guy who cares and wants everyone to succeed. I think that comes over from his military training. He’s just a genuine, good guy to work with.”

Lamarr, who is also a Reserve Citizen Airman with the 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, joined the highway patrol in 2010 and graduated from the academy the following year.

He credits his dad’s best friend as a reason for becoming a trooper.

“He always had a presence about him,” Lamarr explained. “It was something I couldn’t really put my finger on, but I knew things were OK with him around, and I wanted to be like that … To have that presence that you are the one to restore order regardless of the situation was something I knew I could do.”

Lamarr’s job varies from day to day based on what happened on previous shifts, preparation for court appearances, current traffic complaints and more.

“We are a proactive organization and pride ourselves on being a self-starter, looking to reduce crash-causing violations,” the Wapakoneta High School graduate said. “You never know what you will find on a simple traffic stop: impaired drivers, guns, drugs, stolen property, wanted fugitives, abducted children, domestic violence victims, medical emergency -- the list goes on.”

While there are memorable events over his career, Lamarr said it’s the people who really make a lasting impact.

“I am proud of the troopers I work with and the work they do,” he explained. “They do an incredible job under tough conditions. I am proud of their dedication, their sacrifices and their support of the Air Force.”

The typical schedule for a trooper looks like many jobs in the Air Force – three shifts covering 24 hours, 365 days a year on weekends and holidays – but that might be where the similarities end.

“These are two different worlds,” he said.

Lamarr explained the Air Force operates as a team, working together to complete the mission. However, the job of a trooper is normally a lone job, dealing with the public. Many times, situations must be dealt with immediately with no time to consult a team or policy. Because of this, he can relate to his fellow security forces Airmen who man gates or patrol in extreme hot and cold temperatures.

“This can be humbling, and I think it keeps me grounded,” the trooper said. “As a senior leader in the Air Force, I find it important to never lose that understanding and knowing what you are asking of your Airmen.”

His civilian job also helps his Air Force career in other ways.

“The fortitude learned as a trooper has served me well and given me a unique perspective,” he said. “That vision, I carry into staff meetings and can present information on behalf of our members that may help them complete a task or increase efficiency.”

Lamarr, the 445th Security Forces Squadron operations superintendent, joined the Air Force Reserve and went to Basic Military Training in June 2001, a few months before the world-changing 9/11 events.

He was activated for two years in support of 9/11 where he backfilled at McConnell AFB, Kansas, and met Chief Master Sgt. James Kirklin, then a senior airman, who is also with the 445th SFS.

“I’ve known him to be one of the most trustworthy and truly dependable people I’ve met during my Air Force career, someone I would trust my own family with if they were to serve,” said Kirklin, security forces manager.

He added Lamarr hasn’t lost those qualities over the years and wasn’t shocked when hearing about his selection as a Trooper of the Year.

Like many who entered the military, Lamarr joined because he couldn’t afford to attend college. His eyes were set for the U.S. Army Military Police, but his cousin, retired Staff Sgt. Randy Lamarr, encouraged him to check out U.S. Air Force Security Forces.

Lamarr has held a variety of positions during his nearly 22 years such as squad leader, fire team leader, supply, first sergeant and more.

“I learned a lot in each position, and that has really helped me as I became a part of squadron leadership,” the senior master sergeant said.

His favorite temporary duty assignment? Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany where he was able to visit Normandy Beach, a significant place for him as his grandfather traveled through Normandy on his way to the Battle of the Bulge.

As the operations superintendent, Lamarr said he oversees four squad leaders and their 13-man teams in addition to supporting the unit training manager.

As with being a trooper, it’s the people who are his favorite part of the Air Force.

“It’s the relationships that have formed, usually through adversity, long cold training days or meeting some task timeline,” Lamarr explained. “These bonds are with some of the smartest, skilled and hard-charging people I have ever met. I would not still be in the Air Force after 22 years without these relationships – the team is very important to me.”

Success as a Reserve Citizen Airman couldn’t be achieved without the support of his fellow troopers and post.

“When I’m at drill, on orders or completing annual tour, they fill the gap I leave,” Lamarr said. “Often, that means they can’t take off for family events, workloads increase, and shifts are moved to provide coverage. Their effort is greatly appreciated.”

Lamarr has also taken what he’s learned from the Air Force and applied it to his job as a trooper in the form of management skills.

“After entering the NCO ranks in 2005 as a newly minted staff sergeant leadership roles, being an NCO in charge and responsibility were demanded of me,” he said. “It was not easy or always smooth, but I was blessed with good supervisors who took an honest interest in my success. That has really helped me years later as a trooper.”

The life of Lamarr is truly one of balance, but he has proven one can excel at both with his selection to higher ranks in the Air Force and as a 2022 Trooper of the Year, something he feels very honored about.

“It is very humbling knowing the caliber of individuals that put me in this position,” he said.

Through it all, Lamarr embodies the Airman’s Creed by not faltering or failing even after surviving a fatal crash nearly unscathed.

“Quitting was not an option,” the Reserve Citizen Airman said. “I don’t have that in me.