Sharon "Sharky" Arcay, Air Force Spouse, a Belgian, & NATO Military Career Officer

In the summer of 2004, I started studying at the Royal Military Academy, where I met my husband. I studied Social & Military Sciences for five years. I graduated in 2009 and earned my Master's degree.  At the beginning of my career, I served as a young Weapons Fighter Controller in the Control and Reporting Center of Belgium for approximately seven years. I made the switch to the NATO E-3A Component in Geilenkirchen, Germany where I worked on the mighty NATO AWACS. I was assigned to flying squadron 1, the Tigers. On board the impressive aircraft, packed with high-tech radar equipment, I was part of the weapons team, as a Fighter Allocator Instructor. For four years, I had my permanent place at one of the control consoles in the cabin of the Boeing. I was the second woman in the Belgian Air Force, who had flown on board as a Fighter Allocator. It is a unique & fascinating world, flying on the NATO AWACS with a crew from 19 different nationalities!

Over the past years, I have also participated in various operations and exercises around the world. Some missions included Operation Inherent Resolve against the Islamic State out of Turkey, Konya; Sea Guardian, against smuggling and terrorism around the Mediterranean Sea; Red Flag exercise at Nellis Air Force base in Las Vegas, and several NATO Tiger Meets. I enjoyed this very adventurous job, which provided me with a variety of experiences, exercises, operations, top moments, and a lot of career opportunities. It was filled with many challenges. I helped with the responsibilities in surveillance and the defense of NATO airspace and contributed to peace and security at home and abroad. I am really excited and very proud of my position and my job. After this wonderful career of 4 years on the NATO AWACS, I studied again for a year at the Royal Military Academy in 2020 for my Major course & returned as the Head of School and Training Officer in the CRC in 2021. Following that my family and I took on a new great adventure and a big challenge. In 2022, We moved to Sheppard AFB, home of the Euro Nato Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) program. It is here I earned my title of foreign military spouse!

Belgian Career Officer – Air Defense Controller – Leader – Wife – Mom - Military Spouse - SNR Spouse - Key Spouse - NATO Liaison – Spouses’ Club Board member – Soccer manager – Volunteer


Sheppard AFB is located in Wichita Falls, Texas. My husband is a  pilot instructor and the Senior National Representative for Belgium. We decided to take this assignment together in 2020, thinking it was the best time for our family to move overseas and embrace the career opportunity for my husband. This decision resulted in me taking a big career break, which was very strange for me at first. Knowing I wouldn’t be working as an officer and would be a military spouse for the upcoming years would be a challenge. What I learned is, I love my time as a military spouse! I can use all my military knowledge, communication skills & planning qualities, in my role as the Belgian SNR spouse. The Belgian families are dear to my heart. Additionally, I decided to sign up for Key Spouse training.  I knew it would benefit and broaden my knowledge of the US system and the many resources & programs the UF has to offer military families. I love to take what I learn and share it with others. Also for this reason, I joined the Sheppard Spouses’ Club board, as a NATO Liaison which linked everything together. If you think that’s more than enough, think again. We even started our own local competitive soccer team, where I function as Soccer Team Manager. I love helping out others. I also regularly volunteer at my kid's school at Sheppard Elementary. What a decision we have made! In the end, I’m not bored at all, and being a military spouse resulted in making time for the Belgian detachment, for Sheppard AFB, for the community & myself. I feel so grateful and happy to be a part of this great adventure. There are so many people, families & spouses, that I never would have met if it weren’t for ENJJPT, the SNR group & the spouses’ club bringing us together.


Being a mom of 2 kids is not always easy, but I consider myself so lucky. Military moms understand sacrifice in a way that no one else does. Often, you give up time at home, time with your spouse, or time with your children for the good of everyone else. Each time you give something up, you recognize that it's for a cause unlike any other. There was a time when I wasn't able to be a 100% mom, but now I can. I enjoy time with my kids as a school volunteer, at sports activities, as a team manager, being there for them, and being able to bring & drive them everywhere. I feel so blessed to earn my time back with them, and nobody can take that away from me. During our time at Sheppard, I have learned a lot about myself; I can be myself, I thrive as a mom too, and  I enjoy being a full-time housewife and mom. I Never thought I would be good at it, but I proved myself wrong. I can be proud of what I’ve achieved, not only during my career as an officer but also as a military spouse and military mom. I am who I am, and that’s just me being myself. This is my story.

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