2017 Tillman Scholar

Christopher Puckett

Air Force
University of California - Los Angeles
M.S., Systems Engineering

“My goal is to deliver essentials to those in need and make a positive impact on a global scale.”

From a young age, Chris was passionate about two things: flying and military service. As a son and grandson of military veterans, he was inspired by the stories of his grandfather’s service during the Korean War, the immense survival knowledge of his father from the jungles of Central America, and the undaunted compassion of his mother saving lives as an Army nurse. These stories of camaraderie, leadership, adventure, and a passion to help others led him and his sister to take oath to serve in the U.S. Air Force.

Chris’ passion of the skies led him to obtain his private pilot license in high school and to pursue a career in aviation. After graduating from Duke University and commissioning from ROTC, Chris attended pilot training at Columbus Air Force Base. Upon completion of the program, he was assigned to fly the C-17 Globemaster III at McGuire Air Force Base. Chris has delivered over 5 million pounds of cargo, provided aeromedical evacuation for injured troops, and logged over 100 hours of combat flying to support high visibility Presidential, Department of Defense, and humanitarian relief in over 27 countries.

Upon completion of his Master’s degree in Systems Engineering from UCLA, Chris wants to become a test pilot and make positive advancements in the aviation community by designing and integrating safer and more environmentally sustainable systems. He also wants to become a certified flight instructor and to create a program to teach a new generation of future pilots and leaders.