Fairchild welcomes new command chief home

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
"I started my career here, learned how to be an NCO here and now I'm back."

Returning to Fairchild is Chief Master Sgt. Wendy Hansen, who began her career here in April 1991. At the time, she was a B-52 Stratofortress maintainer; now she leads the Airmen of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing as the command chief master sergeant.

"It was here at Fairchild I learned how to lead Airmen," she said. "My time at Fairchild taught me that the Air Force truly cares about its Airmen. I would see commanders visiting their Airmen on the flightline and that had a huge impact on us."

Col. Brian Newberry, 92nd ARW commander, said the chief's diverse background leading Airmen made her an excellent wingman to "lead Fairchild to new heights."

"During the interview process, she remarked on her passion to serve Airmen," the colonel said. "She said that's her calling and it immediately signaled to me that Chief Hansen was the right choice to be the 20th command chief at Fairchild. The chief started her career at Fairchild, and now comes full circle to motivate our Airmen to follow in her footsteps."

The chief said she hopes to "invigorate the authority of their job," by encouraging leaders to give Airmen more responsibility, which will hopefully encourage "Airmen to become tomorrow's leaders today."

"NCOs are here to empower their Airmen, affording them opportunities to take projects and run with them," she said. "My first supervisor always told me, 'I'll tug your leash only when I need to.' It's imperative every Airman use the authority inherent in his or her position to effectively execute assigned responsibilities."

"Supervisors need to help their Airmen reach their full potential by providing clear guidance, adjusting focus and enforcing standards," she added.

Similarly, she said NCOs can't support their Airmen if they don't take the time to value everyone's individual experiences.

"There's nothing I enjoy more than interacting with Airmen," Hansen said. "Every supervisor should spend time getting to know their people because NCOs need to recognize this is the backbone of leading. I'm excited this is now my primary job. I don't have to find time to get to know my Airmen, it's what I do on a daily basis and I love it."

Additionally, Hansen said she wants supervisors and commanders to make sure their people have what they need to get the mission done efficiently and safely.

"Take care of your people," she said. "We serve at a northern tier base in conditions that require cold weather gear and other equipment to get the job done. It's up to us as leaders to make sure our people are protected."

But Hansen couldn't have gotten where she is today without the support of personal and professional mentors she's met throughout her career. During technical training school at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., the chief met fellow student and maintainer Monty Everett.

"The thing I really appreciated about Monty is that he challenged me and kept me motivated," she said. "We may have come from different backgrounds, but that didn't matter. The Air Force was just as concerned about diversity when I joined as it is now. Our instructors and supervisors always told us that everyone has a chance to be successful, regardless of where you're from or what your gender, race or religion are. We learned everyone will be treated equally and that anyone can do it and we did."

Monty wasn't her only mentor through the years and the chief credits many others for her success. She picked up mentors from assignments in the Republic of Korea, Nevada, Arizona, Virginia and Hawaii as well as deployments in support of Operations DESERT STORM, ENDURING FREEDOM AND IRAQI FREEDOM.

One thing the chief has learned is that getting the job done to the best of one's abilities is key.

"Don't worry about duty titles; just do the job you've been assigned to the best of your ability. If you do that, the people who matter will notice. That won't always be your commander or your supervisor -- It might be the Airman who got through the day because you had an encouraging word; it might be the Airman who achieved proficiency because you shared your knowledge; or it might be the Airman more comfortable at work because you demand a professional environment."

Hansen plans to assist Fairchild's enlisted force in every way she knows how by encouraging servicemembers from the bottom up to become the best Airman they can be.

"Remembering our history, embracing our distinctiveness by properly wearing the uniform and celebrating with our peers by attending unit events makes us stronger and reminds us that we are part of something much bigger. Career fields are what we do; being Airmen is who we are."