Spotlight on Air Force reservist, community leader

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Frank Casciotta
  • 310th Space Wing

He walked away from his Grammy award-winning career as a guitarist to create the only nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching autistic people a trade when his son was diagnosed with autism – then decided to join the Air Force Reserve at 39 years old because he wanted to be a good role model.
“The Air Force core values are what I want my kids to see lived out,” said Senior Airman Danny Combs, a space operator assigned to the 310th Space Wing’s 4th Space Warning Squadron at Buckley Space Force Base, Colorado. “They are difficult to live by, but to me, they are virtues to live by. I want them to see me live positively, honestly and with vulnerability while striving for excellence, integrity and in service of others before myself. I want them to be proud of me.”
Combs sought a space wing because he always liked the idea of working in the space domain like his grandfather who worked on the Apollo Lunar Module.
Combs started his nonprofit in 2016 with a 1958 Chevrolet pickup truck driving to garages, churches and anywhere he could park to teach his students. Since then, he’s grown the organization and helped hundreds of young adults with autism find employment in computer science, electrical work, carpentry, welding and auto mechanics.
“People with autism are usually detail oriented, which is key in skilled trades and one of the reasons this works so well for them,” said Combs.

Combs also launched the Colorado Neurodiversity Chamber of Commerce, which is the first of its kind in the country.
His organization has helped hundreds of young adults with autism find employment by teaching them trade. He recently received the Denver Business Journal Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leadership Award and has been featured several multimedia publications for his work such as Mike Rowe’s “Returning the Favor,” the April 2021 edition of Colorado Country Life, Appalachian Today, Colorado Parent Magazine, The Appalachian Online, ESPN Radio, the “Spectrum” documentary, commercials produced and aired on Comcast cable featuring the TACT program, and the March 2022 issue of ColoradoBiz Magazine.