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AF Academy’s top former enlisted role model for cadets retires

  • Published
  • By Julie Imada
  • Center for Character and Leadership Development

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - A former chief master sergeant popular at the Air Force Academy, retired from his position as the Cadet wing’s curriculum branch manager, Feb. 28.

Bob Vasquez took on several roles at the Academy after retiring from active duty in 2002 as a chief master sergeant, the services top enlisted rank, including directing the Center for Character and Leadership Development course and developing its Vector Program for freshmen, a seminar focusing on values, leadership growth and self-reflection.  

“My job is to develop leaders of character,” Vasquez said, referring to the school’s Leader of Character framework, managed by the CCLD. “I taught the Air Force core values of integrity, service before self and excellence. The framework is about how we do that.”

Cadet 1st Class Sam Vance said Vasquez helped him recover from academic probation and recognize his purpose as a potential officer.

“Chief Vasquez taught me that people will not follow you if they don’t see you as a leader,” Vance said. “To be a leader, you have to know your people’s aspirations and build relationships to help them attain their goals.”

Maj. Adam Dyke, CCLD support division chief and an Academy graduate, remembered Vasquez from his own cadet days.  

“Chief Vasquez always asked, ‘isn’t it a great day to be an American Warrior?’ with such enthusiasm that you knew he believed it with his whole heart and wanted you to believe it, too,” he said. “It took time to understand and appreciate his belief and intent, but we were lucky to have him as an example so early in our careers.”

Even if cadets didn’t bump into Vasquez on a daily basis, he was a mainstay on campus, and they all called him “chief.” They knew he was behind the “Words of Wisdom” emails sent to cadets every day and made the rounds across campus chatting with cadets.

“[Cadets] are individuals who want to be treated as individuals and respected,” Vasquez said. “Those 3 a.m. emails were my way of letting cadets know someone out there cares about them even in the middle of the night.”

Vasquez said cadets inspired him to connect with his Hispanic and Native American roots.

“It’s important to celebrate our differences, live and work in connection with each other and develop as leaders and followers,” he said. 

 Vasquez said he’ll spend more time with his family, further develop his “Power-packed Leader Tips” podcast and “Heirpower” book series, sponsored by Air University, and remain in his volunteer position as the ethical advisor to Cadet Squadron 40.