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Wing appoints first woman command chief

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Susan Penning
  • 193rd SOW Public Affairs
Following a change of responsibility ceremony Aug. 17, Chief Master Sgt. Regina Stoltzfus took the reigns as the new 193rd Special Operations Wing command chief master sergeant. She is the first woman at the wing ever to be appointed to the role.
Chief Stoltzfus is now responsible for serving as the senior enlisted advisor to the wing commander on all issues affecting the health, morale, welfare, professional development and military readiness of the wing's approximately 1,500 enlisted Airmen.

"We are honored and privileged to have such an influential leader among our ranks," said Col. John Dickinson, 193rd SOW commander. "I look forward to working with Chief Stoltzfus to help take care of the extraordinary Airmen we are entrusted with at this wing."

"While the wing commander's focus is primarily on the operational mission, my job is to ensure we are looking at the well-being of all the Airmen working to accomplish that mission," Chief Stoltzfus said in a recent interview regarding her new role.

When asked what it meant to her to be the first female command chief at the wing, the chief said, "I have a lot of pressure to be a significant role model for other women and to really deliver. The magnitude of that responsibility hasn't completely sunk in yet."

She has, however, already set her sights on accomplishing some professional and personal goals as she takes on the hefty responsibilities of command chief.

"I want to be a strong leader in the organization, one that others can look up to. And I want to get better at keeping all the balls in the air, so to speak - family, friends, career. I recognize that no one can do this alone. Many people help me and I cherish all of them," she pointed out.

She went on to explain her method for achieving personal success.

"I've always believed that you make your own opportunities," she said. "Be ready. Complete your mission requirements to the best of your ability. Don't wait to be told what to do. Then you will always be prepared when that small window of opportunity opens."

She also offered some words of wisdom regarding setbacks and failure.

"I try not to spend too much time and energy dwelling on the things that don't go my way. Instead, I prepare for new, different opportunities. And I don't recommend sulking because it causes resentment. Nobody should spend their energy on that."

The chief said there were some key steps she took along her career path to get to her current position.

"I've always strived to have a good work ethic. And I've had to get comfortable with learning how to deal with people," she said. "I think it's important for Airmen to understand that the career ladder is actually more like a jungle gym. You may have to maneuver around to eventually move up. And don't be shocked if someone might try to kick you off. Just hang on and don't do that to others!"

Regarding the idea of "hanging on," Chief Stoltzfus emphasized the need for Airmen to develop resiliency.

"We must keep striving and not give up. We can't settle; we must always move forward. People truly respect resilient individuals," she said.

The command chief then took a moment to candidly talk about what has hindered her progress over the years.

"What may have hurt me along the way was my lack of self-awareness in my younger years," she explained. "I spent too much time finding fault in others and my circumstances."

"It took a while for me to be able to swallow the criticism, to appreciate and acknowledge it," she added, "and to admit my faults when certain individuals subtly brought them to my attention."

The chief also provided some words of wisdom for Airmen looking to advance their careers.

"I think it is important to get your education as early as possible before the responsibilities of life start stacking up," she said. "Also, find good mentors. And when people try to give you advice, learn to take it early. Don't let your self-defense mechanism kick in."

She went on to speak about the role that non-commissioned officers play.

"As supervisors, you have a higher calling than being your Airmen's friend. Sometimes you'll need to be firm with them, sometimes nurturing. Do this right and you will gain their respect. They'll know you have their best interests at heart," she said. "Also, remember to plant good seeds and keep in mind that the folks you supervise may not like you at the time you need to offer some correction. But still look them in the eye and say, 'Good morning.'"

Chief Stoltzfus concluded her interview with some insight regarding her views on equal opportunity.

"We are all dealt a different hand in life. Some hands are good, some not so good. I wasn't necessarily dealt the best hand as a kid growing up in Los Angeles. But the cool thing is that, when the Air Force takes us in, they agree to 'raise' us all the same. We all start off in the Air Force with equal opportunities. We are given instant power to succeed and create our own path."

"Regardless of where you've come from or where you're going, remember you will fall sometimes. When this happens, I encourage you to be graceful. Stand right back up and move forward with your head held high," she added.

The Airmen at the 193rd SOW will continue to look to Chief Stoltzfus for insight and guidance as she executes her vision for the wing's enlisted force.

A full biography of Chief Stoltzfus is available on the wing's public website here: