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After 30 years, AFPC command chief retires from 'dream job'

Chief Master Sgt. Terry Reed, Air Force Personnel Center Command Chief, as he looked in July 1978 during Air Force Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photos/File)

Chief Master Sgt. Terry Reed, Air Force Personnel Center Command Chief, as he looked in July 1978 during Air Force Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photos/File)

Chief Master Sgt. Terry Reed as he looks just prior to his retirement. (U.S. Air Force photos/File)

Chief Master Sgt. Terry Reed as he looks just prior to his retirement. (U.S. Air Force photos/File)

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- "Serving in the Air Force has been a dream," said Chief Master Sgt. Terry Reed, Air Force Personnel Center Command Chief Master Sergeant. "I've loved it from day one." Day 10,950 (or thereabouts) will come Aug. 1, when he retires after 30 years of service.

Chief Reed enlisted in the Air Force during the summer after graduating from Dominguez High School in Compton, Calif. His uncle had been a technical sergeant in the Air Force and had described to Chief Reed's mom how the Air Force was a great way of life. Chief Reed's mother simply suggested the idea to Young Terry Reed during his senior year in high school and the rest is history.

Some join for education, some join for training, some join just to have a steady job. Chief Reed was following in the footsteps of his uncle. Thankfully so, he has enjoyed every minute of it. With stops in Mississippi, New Mexico, Spain, Italy, California, Alabama and Texas. Coincidently, he's ending his career in the same city his uncle did many years ago.

"It's Military City USA," he said. "No matter where I was stationed, I often heard San Antonio was the best military place to be." Without question, years later he agrees San Antonio has become home. "I met my wife here, had my last two children here, my mother's sister lives here, and our eldest son graduated from the University of Texas, at Austin and lives here too. It's the best place to retire." He plans to continue living in the San Antonio area.

This self-described "people person" has a great affinity for the personnel career field, but he didn't begin his Air Force career as a personnelist. He began as an information management specialist, graduating from technical school at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., in 1978 - with honors. He retrained into personnel in 1986.

"I volunteered to retrain," he said. "It was an outstanding opportunity for me. I'm all about people, and so is personnel."

The chief has held various important positions in the personnel career field, beginning at a geographically separated unit, base-level, and a Satellite Personnel Activity. He's been a Military Personnel Flight Superintendent twice, and done a tour as an IG inspector. In 2004, he became the skills management branch chief at AFPC, where he marks re-institution the Career Job Reservation Program after a five year moratorium as the highlight of that job. He transitioned to his current office, as superintendent in 2005, and soon after became AFPC' first Command Chief Master Sergeant in 2006.

Chief Reed describes himself as a "behind the scenes leader," a "bridge builder" and a "team first leader." "A successful command chief should be quiet, yet forceful," he said. "You ensure every Airman understands the commander's vision and the chief's work behind the scenes ensured that vision became a reality. He describes the standup of the Air Force Contact Center and transfer of the AEF Center from Langley to AFPC as two examples of the commander's vision becoming a reality and illustrates what amazing work our Airmen are capable of achieving. I am proud to have played a small part in helping move these activities forward.

His years as Command Chief have been immensely successful. He points to the high morale in the enlisted force, the numerous awards, and consistent above average promotion rates as key reasons. "Simply put," he said, "the Airmen live by their motto, 'AFPC leads the way each and every day.'"

Another highlight Chief Reed points to was the opportunity he had in helping improve training and living conditions for our Airmen attending Combat Skills Training with the U.S. Army prior to deployment. His team out-briefed their findings to Gen. William Looney, Air Education and Training Command commander and Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Air Force Chief of Staff. after assessing the training and living conditions at the Power Projection Platforms. As a result, 2nd Air Force became the Air Force executive agent for Airmen receiving combat skills training. "Our Air Force leaders acted swiftly to respond to the needs of our Airmen. Our leaders truly care about us and are doing their best to ensure we are properly trained and equipped to do our job. The result was a tremendous increase in quality training for our Airmen," he said, proudly.

Chief Reed mentioned three mentors who played a significant role in shaping his leadership style:

Chief Master Sgt. Dan Archuleta, mentored Chief Reed early in his career. "He taught me to be an example to Airmen. He never asked an Airman to do anything he wouldn't do. He went everywhere his Airmen went. He truly led by example. He taught me that leaders lead 24/7 and don't take a day off. Our Airmen need that," the chief said.

Col. Omar Wiseman was the chief's wing commander at two separate assignments. "He taught me that 'no' was an unacceptable answer and should never be your first response."

Chief Master Sgt. Coverston Navy became Chief Reed's mentor and friend. "He taught me patience and how to take care of people; moreover, about leaving a legacy and that the measure of your success was not in your own accomplishments but in the accomplishments of your people and those you leave behind. I learned through his example, to share your experiences both good and bad, to set your Airmen up for success in the future. Still to this day, I draw from those experiences and believe that's way I have been so fortunate. Hopefully, I have done well by my mentors".

The chief has a few parting words of advice for his replacement, Chief Master Sgt. Richard Kaiser. "Our Airmen are ready to be led," he said. "Learn their accomplishments and give them the top cover to help them succeed. You will find no better Airmen anywhere in the Air Force, I promise you."

As to the future, Chief Reed intends to continue to serve the Air Force in one capacity or another. "I'm just taking off the uniform," he said.

The chief looks back on his 30 years and is satisfied. "I wouldn't change a thing," he said. "I could not have planned it better. My uncle retired as a technical sergeant and that was my goal. I am proud to say it was my mother's idea for me to enlist and hopefully I have made her proud in doing so."