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Command chief looks at goals past, present, future

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- It's not every day an Airman becomes a chief master sergeant. And it happens even less that one becomes a command chief. 

Chief Master Sgt. Angelica Johnson, the 30th Space Wing's newest command chief, has done both, though she never planned for it. But plans change ... 

Making a chief

Joining the Air Force just out of high school in 1985, Chief Johnson said she wanted to find a way to live on her own, get her degree and serve her country. Her goal was a four-year enlistment. Ten years later, the plan changed. 

"I had some really great supervisors and great mentors along the way," said Chief Johnson, the former superintendant of the 435th Air Base Wing staff agencies and 435th Comptroller Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. "Once I hit my 10-year mark, I decided that I wanted to make the Air Force a career and looked at hopefully making master sergeant and staying in for 20." 

But again, great supervisors and mentors paved the way for her success. She decided to stay in past 20 years and made chief master sergeant in 2007. Then fate stepped in and gave her an opportunity that led to where she is today. 

Less than one year after becoming a chief master sergeant, Chief Johnson was asked to fill in as the 435th Air Base Wing command chief for three months. She accepted the challenge and was changed by the experience. 

"They were probably the most challenging and busy months of my career," said the Connecticut native. "I learned a lot about what it takes to be a command chief and how to take care of Airmen. That's when it dawned on me that it was what I wanted to do." 

She applied for a position as a command chief and Col. David Buck, the 30th Space Wing commander, selected her for a phone interview. Luckily, they were "on the same page right from the first minute on the phone," Chief Johnson said. 

New goals 

Now that she's a command chief, the 24-year veteran's goal has changed to staying in for 30 years and continuing to be a command chief. But that's long term. Ask Chief Johnson what her immediate goals are, and she'll tell you there are two at the top of her list: learning the space mission and taking care of Airmen. 

The two go hand-in-hand, she said. As command chief, she must know the intricacies of Vandenberg's mission so she can better ensure the Airmen are able to accomplish it. 

"We can't do the launches and we can't do the missile testing without those Airmen," said Chief Johnson. "It's my job to take care of them and make sure that their focus is 100 percent on their job and not on other things that can distract them, like their quality of life, the place where they live, where they eat and those sorts of things." 

In order to keep Airmen focused and mission-ready, she will follow her "servant leadership" philosophy, which she lives by to serve those whom she leads. 

"They can expect that I will listen to their concerns," said the married mother of two. "When it's appropriate, I will take action to make sure that we get things fixed so that they can get the job done. One of the most important things that chiefs do is taking care of the Airmen, making things better." 

But just because a Team V member may have a complaint doesn't mean it can get fixed right away or easily. Funding is tight, she said. She will, when necessary, put a team together to come up with smart solutions to problems, with inputs from junior Airmen being an important part of the process. Those Airmen are the ones living in the dorms, eating at the dining facility and using base facilities the most. 

No matter what rank, however, Chief Johnson has expectations for the enlisted Airmen she serves. While she and wing leadership are trying to make Vandenberg a better place to live and work, Airmen must ensure they accomplish the mission to the highest standards. 

"We have to make sure we get that mission done," said Chief Johnson. "I think if you take a team concept, you can overcome any barrier, any challenge that you might have in getting the job done." 

It seems the chief knows something about mission accomplishment. Whether it was getting her degree or becoming a senior NCO, she met her goals and took them one step further ... even when the plan changed.