SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. --
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- The 375th Air Mobility Wing officially welcomed its new command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Patricia Hickey, and her family here Oct. 4, after arriving from Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.
She and her husband, retired Chief Master Sgt. Tony Hickey, bring with them their blended family: his daughter, Amber, 24, who lives in California; her daughter, Brittany, 23, and their children together, Isabella, 5 and Matthew, 3. Their family also includes pure a bred Golden Retriever named Samuel Adams, since they bought him in Boston.
This is their second tour to Scott, the first being from 2012 to 2014 where she served as a superintendent of the Supply Chain Operations Wing. Tony retired in 2011 after almost 30 years of service in the flight engineer career field and has since worked as a cyber security specialist for various agencies, currently with the Defense Security Service in Fairview Heights.
They met in 2009 while they were both stationed at RAF Mildenhall, England, and started long-distance dating in 2010 while he was deployed to Afghanistan, and then marrying in 2011, the same year he retired.
She said she’s excited to be back at Scott and already rolled up her sleeves to get to work.
“I love Scott. I love the mission of the base. I love the area, and our commander (Col. John Howard) is amazing,” said Hickey. “We’ve got some of the best Airmen I’ve ever seen.
“They’ve been great, so it’s been fantastic.”
Scott is just one of 12 places she’s lived that has included Kyrgyzstan, England, Texas, Florida, Nevada, and Italy. It’s been 24 years since she joined in 1993, and said it has exceeded her goal of “seeing the world” and proving to herself and others that she could do this.
She grew up in a small town north of Tampa, Fla., and wanted to travel the world. Her dad was in the Army and served in Vietnam, but he was out of the Army before she was born and passed away when she was just 7 years old. Her sister also served, giving four years to the Army, but Hickey said knew she “it was the Air Force or nothing.”
She said that at first she never saw herself as a career Airman. She considered it a part time gig, meant to give her some tools for her to take to college and “become an adult,” but she’s still going strong and doesn’t plan to retire anytime soon.
Along the way she has had her fair share of challenges, telling people that she was never the “superstar Airman.”
“I was OK, but looking back, it’s fair to say I wasn’t ‘truly among the best,’” Hickey said.
But, upon entering Airman Leadership School, her perspective on what type of an Airman she wanted to be changed.
“So I went, and I spent six weeks at ALS ... then they called my name as the (John) Levitow award winner ... that was probably the turning point for me ... when I realized there’s nothing that I can’t do.”
Hickey said she hopes she can use her experiences to help motivate other Airmen.
“The No. 1 thing is just for them to know that I care,” said Hickey.
“I love our Airmen more than anything in the world. We have the most amazing Airmen, and we (the commander and I) just want to make things better for them.”
As the command chief, Hickey said she feels it’s her job to motivate, inspire, and thank Airmen every day for what they do and to be there for them when they need it.
“I tell people that, ‘Hey my door is always open. If you ever want to talk to me about anything come see me,’” said Hickey. “And I genuinely mean it.”
In exchange, she just wants Airmen to always do their best.
“That’s all you can ask for. If all of our Airmen are doing their best, we’re always going to succeed and the mission is always going to get done,” Hickey said.