The AOG Service Spotlight highlights members of the Air Force Academy family (grads, cadets, family and friends of the Academy) every month who perform outstanding service that makes a positive and meaningful impact in their communities and beyond. Let these inspiring stories foster a spirit of service within the Air Force Academy family and inspire further commitment to a lifetime of service.
Major Daniel Walker '10
Maj. Walker is one of our Young Alumni Excellence Award recipients honored at the Young Alumni Success & Engagement panel on March 17, 2021. WATCH VIDEO
Maj. Daniel Walker, a F-22 Raptor pilot, has consistently performed in the top 1% of his peers throughout his career. Before pilot training, he earned Distinguished Graduate honors during the Air and Space Basic Course - an award given to officers with the highest GPAs and commander and peer ratings. He then graduated pilot training as 1 of 6 pilots (of the 1500 produced that year) selected to fly the F-22. On his way to becoming the first Black pilot to graduate the F-22 Basic Course, he also garnered the Air-to-Air Top Gun Award for his Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals Class. Proving his elite status early as a F-22 flight lead, in 2015 - only five years post-graduation - he became the youngest pilot in his platform to lead a formation into combat. Continuing to demonstrate the highest character, utmost competence, and leadership potential, his leadership entrusted him to plan over 6,800 sorties for 16 nations as the Central Command Air Operations Center Fighter Liaison Officer. Maj. Walker’s leadership in this position earned him two Top Flight Lead awards at the squadron and group levels recognizing him as the #1/40 amongst other flight leads.
Maj. Walker is truly extraordinary. He is a four-time recipient of the Squadron Top Gun Award that recognizes the F-22 pilot with the most air and ground training employment points. In recognition of being one of the best in his career field, then Captain Walker, having upgraded to F-22 Mission Commander, was selected as the youngest Detachment Commander for the Alaska NORAD Region F-22 Combat Alert Cell - a position previously held only by Lieutenant Colonels. He led the F-22 Alert Cell to an “Excellent” rating on its subsequent inspection. Shortly thereafter, he led the 3rd Operations Support Squadron’s Aircrew Flight Equipment Flight to the Pacific Air Force’s Large Program of the Year Award in 2019.
Maj. Walker is currently a 435th FTS Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals Instructor Pilot to American, Saudi Arabian, Brazilian, Qatari, and Argentinian fighter pilot candidates, providing airborne instruction on surface attack, air combat maneuvers, and tactical intercepts. Additionally, he serves as the 12th Flying Training Wing’s representative to the 19th Air Force A5 Pilot Training Transformation team. In this position, he aids in the modernization of Air Force Pilot Training by integrating leading edge technology and human performance resources.
Upon graduating from USAFA, Maj. Walker has remained dedicated to service. He serves as the President of Seed Incorporated, a 501c7 that engages and leads mentorship programs for cadets and young officers. In this role, he has worked closely with the Way of Life Alumni Group to advocate through policy for minority cadets and officers. He also serves as the Co-Director of Operations for The Air Gardens Group, a 501c3 for teaching and mentoring Colorado High School students. In acknowledgement of his expertise in advocating for minority service members, AETC Commander Lt Gen Brad Webb hosted Daniel on “Real Talk - Race and Diversity in the Air Force,” a conversation recorded live that received the attention of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
If all of this were not enough, Maj. Walker also earned a master’s degree in Public Administration, and recently received admittance to Harvard Law School. Lastly, Afterburner Incorporated hired Daniel as their youngest ever consultant. He is the fastest to upgrade to an event lead that instructs planning, execution, and debrief mechanics to corporations around the globe. He has a portfolio of 15 clients, including Microsoft, P&G, Google, & VMware. Every action of Maj. Walker has pointed towards excellence as a young professional. As 1/5 African American F-22 Raptor pilots in the Air Force (1/20 AF fighter pilots), he is truly an inspiration to everyone he encounters.
“While a cadet, our Air Force Academy ignited in me a passion for service in and out of the uniform. After graduation, my consistent and impactful interactions with the Long Blue Line have challenged me to relentlessly pursue ways to give time and energy to the people and causes who might benefit most from my good fortunes. In the midst of social and economic tumult, transitioning out of the Air Force, and endeavoring to be a father and husband to my family, I tap into the character, sense of purpose, and integrity the Zoo started instilling in me almost 15 years ago. For that, I am thankful and honored that the institution I treasure so dearly would find me worthy of this award. Before I have my 15 minutes of fame pried from me, I’d like to encourage the graduate community to turn our empathy and intellect toward leading our nation through this time of friction. We are at a point in our nation’s history that could place us either on a path to progress or regression. If our Academy prepared us for anything at all, I’d assert that it trained us to be the guardians of our nation’s principled founding, by holding it - and ourselves - accountable to the truths we aspire to champion.”
While a cadet, our Air Force Academy ignited in me a passion for service in and out of the uniform. After graduation, my consistent and impactful interactions with the Long Blue Line have challenged me to relentlessly pursue ways to give time and energy to the people and causes who might benefit most from my good fortunes. In the midst of social and economic tumult, transitioning out of the Air Force, and endeavoring to be a father and husband to my family, I tap into the character, sense of purpose, and integrity the Zoo started instilling in me almost 15 years ago.
— Maj. Daniel Walker '10