Face of Defense: Son Follows Father’s Path to the Air Force


Air Force Airman 1st Class David Mapel is following in the footsteps of his father, Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Mark Mapel, as a CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft special mission aviator.

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Air Force Airman 1st Class David Mapel, a CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft special mission aviator student assigned to the 58th Training Squadron at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., is following in the footsteps of his father, left, Chief Master Sgt. Mark Mapel, the chief enlisted manager for standards and evaluations with 1st Special Operations Group at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II
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Carrying on tradition: Father and son, now brothers in arms
Air Force Airman 1st Class David Mapel, a CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft special mission aviator student assigned to the 58th Training Squadron at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., is following in the footsteps of his father, left, Chief Master Sgt. Mark Mapel, the chief enlisted manager for standards and evaluations with 1st Special Operations Group at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II

The senior Mapel is currently the chief enlisted manager for standards and evaluations with the 1st Special Operations Group at Hurlburt Field, Fla., while David is assigned here to the 58th Training Squadron as a CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft special mission aviator student.

Special Mission Aviators

Special mission aviators cover everything from preflight inspections of aircraft systems to the placement and delivery of the aircraft’s cargo.

They have multiple integral roles, monitoring all functions for the aircraft while providing weapon defense-including the former duties of flight engineers, loadmasters and gunners.

David said he went to college and found that it wasn’t for him. He decided to join the Air Force.

“Being with the family, I saw the job, the community, everyone in it and how close everyone was in the squadron, that’s why I wanted to go for special operations,” he said.

Mark said he wanted his son to attend college, get his bachelor’s degree, and then join the Air Force as a commissioned officer. Mark earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees while remaining enlisted.

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Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Mark Mapel, the chief enlisted manager for standards and evaluations with 1st Special Operations Group, secures a panel cover on a CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, as his son, Airman 1st Class David Mapel, a CV-22 special mission aviator student with the 58th Training Squadron, looks on at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., July 25, 2018. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II
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Carrying on tradition: Father and son, now brothers in arms
Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Mark Mapel, the chief enlisted manager for standards and evaluations with 1st Special Operations Group, secures a panel cover on a CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, as his son, Airman 1st Class David Mapel, a CV-22 special mission aviator student with the 58th Training Squadron, looks on at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., July 25, 2018. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II

“One of the main reasons I joined [the Air Force] and chose to do special operations was to try to make a difference in the world. … Hopefully I was able to make a little bit of difference,” Mark said.

Family History of Military Service

Mark said his father was an Army infantryman and his older brother was an Army Ranger. He also had several uncles that served in the Army and Marine Corps.

“Their service definitely impacted my decision to join and carry forward the heritage, pride in our military and pride in our country,” he said.

Mark said he is happy that his son is following in his footsteps.

“I am very proud of him … It’s easy to say it’s the proudest thing [he’s] done to date,” Mark said of his son. “I’m seriously trying to consider if there is anything else [he’s] done that’s more worthy than serving [his] country as special operations in the United States Air Force, and, honestly, in my opinion, I don’t think there is.”