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AFSC commander recounts importance of mentoring during AFCOMA gala

  • Published
  • By Lemitchel King
  • Air Force Sustainment Center

Lt. Gen. Stacey Hawkins, Air Force Sustainment Center commander, gave the keynote speech at the Air Force Cadet Officer Mentor Association’s 34th Anniversary Awards Gala May 6 at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington D.C.

In opening his speech, Hawkins acknowledged a crowd that included ROTC cadets, AFCOMA members and alumnae, along with their families and AFCOMA founding members.

“I consider many of you introduced tonight to be mentors to me, and I am grateful for the impact you’ve had on my life and career,” Hawkins said.

Born from a private Army organization called The ROCKS Inc., what is now AFCOMA began with Army officers, who would later be joined by Air Force officers. They started a visitation program to Army ROTC Detachments at Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the country to facilitate the cadets’ transition from campus life to Army life.

The Air Force members would eventually form the Air Force ROCKS Briefing Team and expand shortly after.

On January 23, 1989, Lieutenant General Thomas J. Hickey, Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel, officially endorsed the efforts of the Air Force "ROCKS" Briefing Team and solicited strong support of all ROTC personnel. It would later become known by its current name, AFCOMA.

Once known as the Air Force Cadet Officer Mentor Action Program, or AFCOMAP, the organization would be instrumental in shaping the kind of leader Hawkins would grow into.

“In January 1994, a naïve, bright-eyed, newly married first lieutenant PCS’d to Bolling Air Force Base to join the Air Force Honor Guard as a ceremonial guardsman,” Hawkins said, referring to himself. “That first lieutenant, fresh off a first assignment to Barksdale Air Force Base, was looking for belonging, positive leadership examples, wisdom and any good advice he could find.”

He talked about how a then-Lt. Col. Ronnie Hawkins (no relation) mentored him at that time and introduced him to the organization through meetings that would take place “in the very building we’re all assembled in this evening.”

“As I have become seasoned in my career journey, my advice has matured as well,” Hawkins continued, “I now realize that the mentors who came before me demonstrated attributes that were timeless and immutable. These attributes didn’t produce quick wins, nor did they promise immediate recognition or gratification, but nonetheless these displayed attributes were effective, enduring and, in so many ways, purpose driven.”

Speaking directly to the ROTC cadets in the room, Hawkins said, “you are our future and who we are depending on to thrive in this new world order.  I humbly ask you to accept the calling of serving in the profession of arms and consider devoting the prime of your professional lives to this endeavor.  You won’t regret it, as I surely haven’t.

“Regardless of your background or station,” he added, “I also ask that you embrace the righteous path of helping your fellow Airman or Guardian -- leave no one behind. Mentoring provides the foundation for the ethos our nation’s warfighting readiness depends upon.”

The gala continued with the presentation of the Col. Patton Scholarship award to five Air Force ROTC cadets and ended with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between AFCOMA, Inc. Chairman Dr. Al Moseley and Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the U.S. Air Force, Marianne Malizia.