MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
The 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron (JCSS) celebrated the promotion of its first African-American and female chief, July 29, at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.
Chief Master Sgt. Lessie Hicks’s 32-year career laid the foundation for this moment, the moment she became chief.
“The journey hasn’t been on my own,” explained Hicks. “I believe I have gotten to where I am today because of my faith in God, my family and the many amazing people that I have had the pleasure of working with in this unit.”
Looking back, Hicks joined the Air Force in 1984. She was first stationed at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, New York, as a simulator technician. Then, after four years of active-duty service, Hicks moved to Florida and transitioned into the Florida Air National Guard as a 290th JCSS switching technician.
For the last 28 years, Hicks has served her unit, starting off as a traditional Guardsman then she received active-duty military orders in 2001 and became active guard in 2003. She performed various duties to include becoming a satellite technician, NCO in charge of readiness, NCO in charge of maintenance control, superintendent of quality assurance and now the mission support chief.
Throughout her years of dedicated service, Hick said her unit has been a huge support system.
“Beyond any shadow of a doubt, it’s the people,” said Hicks when asked why she continues to serve her unit. “We have grown up together, we have shared in each other’s burdens, the good times that we have celebrated, the bad times that we have been there for one another, and we worked together to complete our incredible mission, that we have always succeeded at.”
Hicks explains that her unit has become more like a family. She’s seen military members’ children grow up and some of those children now work in the same unit.
This family concept has not only impacted Hick’s career, but the mission as well.
“We have pride not only in ourselves but in the unit, and we know that we are dependent on each other to make it happen,” said Hicks. “Not only do you not want to let yourself down personally, but you don’t want to let anyone else down. The Air Force teaches that every link in the chain matters, and we embrace that because we realize it is true.”
Reflecting on what Hicks has learned, she stated “If you take care of the people, the mission will take care of its self.”
Hicks advises young Airmen to learn from others and persevere.
“Take the opportunities to learn from those ahead of you, the good and the bad,” said Hicks. “Once you set your eyes on your goal, no matter how difficult it is and how it seems you won’t make that goal, keep pressing.”
Hicks explained that she learned this lesson all too well from her own personal experiences. She felt stagnant for a period of six years because positions were limited and upward mobility was difficult she explained.
“Knowing what my mission was and knowing that I was still helping people, helped me get through that time, said Hicks. “Truthfully, I was a long shot for chief, but I believed in myself, I believed in what I had to offer the unit and I believed that if I put my best foot forward what I had been doing all this time would pay off in the end.”
Hicks built her career through hard work, perseverance and a strong support system. She now looks forward to mentoring and guiding her Airmen with the knowledge she has gained.
“I have been serving with Chief Hicks for about 23 years,” said Chief Ramon Perez, the superintendent with the 125 Mission Support Group. “She is a force of nature and is selfless in her service. I am proud to call her a follow chief and friend.”