Airmen, the mission, family are top priorities, says 10th Air Base wing commander

  • Published
  • By Amber Baillie
  • Academy Spirit staff writer
For Col. Stacey Hawkins, attending the Air Force's Academy provided the prime opportunity to venture from his small hometown in Louisiana and set his sights on the big Air Force.

After graduating in 1991, pursuing a career in aircraft maintenance and working with Airmen throughout the world, Hawkins said it was his love for aviation and desire to work with large groups that prepared him to lead the 10th Air Base Wing here 22 years later.

"It's humbling and surreal," he said. "To have the opportunity to come back and reflect on where it all started for me is amazing. I'm learning a lot every day about what it takes to support a university and installation."

The best part of serving as the 10th ABW commander is being able to work with military and civilian Airmen every day, Hawkins said.

"You have an opportunity to meet people who usually have something on their minds and want to share it with you," he said. "In this role, I'm able to learn and integrate the different pieces of information I receive from my different interactions in the wing and develop plans to innovate or fix a problem."

Hawkins said his primary focuses are: the mission, innovation, quality supervision of Airmen and serving as a good role model.

"There's a ripe culture for us to innovate - even within current budget constraints," he said. "I want to find new ways of doing things more efficiently and accomplishing more with the resources we have."

Hawkins said taking care of Airmen is a top priority.

"First-line supervisors need to engage with their military and civilian Airmen," he said. "They need to know their people. Supervisors need to know their Airmen well enough to notice if something is wrong and see how they can help them access the many services we provide here or through simple encouragement."

Hawkins will follow Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson's vision to stay connected with the local community.

"As I become more aligned with her intent, we're going to have robust community engagement," he said. "We have a unique opportunity here: I receive e-mails from leaders in the community who will pass the Academy on the interstate and ask, 'What are you building at the Academy?'" There seems to be a ready community hungry for military engagement."

When Hawkins assumed command of the wing June 10, he already had connections with Air Force wing commanders in the area.

"The wing commander at Peterson Air Force Base and I were captains together and I had Professional Military Education courses with both commanders at Schriever AFB and Buckley," he said. "We've already established personal relationships with each other which really helps us integrate as an Air Force community - something I know is a priority for General Johnson. It's also important as an Air Force community to ask ourselves, how are we engaging and serving as good neighbors and partners within the local community?'"

One of Hawkins career highlights included traveling with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds in 2000 throughout the U.S. and Europe, he said.

"We traveled to seven countries in a five-week period working to keep the aircraft flying," Hawkins said. "They weren't just representing the Air Force within the continental U.S. - they were representing the U.S. to a larger world. I realized the value of American airpower and how you can spread good will and our nation's values to people throughout the world because they appreciate what we do as Airmen."

Hawkins said since his days here as a "Doolie" or freshman, cadets have become more connected to the outside world.

"They receive iPhones after the Acceptance Day Parade, and have FaceBook pages," he said. "It's a new world and new reality. The connectedness and social technology probably has enhanced cadet life, and I can tell from having Academy grads work in my organization, they're savvy because of this."

Hawkins' family plays a significant role in the longevity of his career, he said.

"You come into the Air Force as an individual, but stay in because of the quality of life and your family's dedication to what you're doing. I was willing and able to take on every assignment, but by having my family's support for remote tours and deployments has enabled me to continue to serve."

Hawkins takes pride in knowing his wing gives most cadets their first opportunity to see how a wing operates.

"What's really unique about our organization is that we are so connected and integrated into all of the elements, whether it's the cadet wing, athletic department, academic classroom or 306 Flying Training Squadron," he said. "It's neat to know that you're critical to everyone being able to succeed."