ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE — During Women’s History Month, the 28th Bomb Wing recently welcomed the second woman to ever assume the role of command chief at Ellsworth AFB.
Chief Master Sgt. Rochelle Hemingway, originally from Kokomo, Indiana, was previously stationed at Luke AFB, Arizona, where she served as the 56th Medical Operations Squadron’s superintendent. As command chief, Hemingway will advise Col. John Edwards, the 28th Bomb Wing commander, on the topics of health, morale, welfare, training and development for the airmen stationed at Ellsworth AFB.
Hemingway, who has been in the Air Force for over 27 years, said her priorities fall in line with the base’s current strategic priorities.
“With a focus on strengthening the team; winning the fight; and preparing for the future, my goal is to interpret that into my hashtag — ‘SLAY,’” said Hemingway.
True to Air Force style, SLAY is an acronym.
“The S is for a ‘state of readiness’ — at any time we can go and provide combat power anytime, anywhere. The L is for ‘leading out loud’ — our [people] need to be well led to [complete] the mission that we’re being called to do. The A is for ‘a sense of community and a sense of family,’” said Hemingway, explaining that she would like to create more opportunities for Airmen to come together. “And the Y is for ‘you’re built to last’ — there are going to be times when it’s going to be hard, and they’ll want to know what their ‘why’ is, [which] may re-motivate them.”
Hemingway admits that her journey and motivations as a leader were not always clear to her. One of the most valuable lessons she has learned during her time in the Air Force is that there are secondary and tertiary effects to every decision made as a leader. When she was technical sergeant, she had 40 to 50 technicians that she was responsible for and she had to make a lot of decisions.
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“The light bulb wasn’t turned on for me in the previous ranks as to what my responsibilities were as a leader,” said Hemingway. “I found that maybe the [decisions I make may] affect someone’s career or future career path. So sitting down and taking a hard look, everyone’s situation is different and you have to act accordingly. You really need to understand what those effects will be and make decisions with all of the information you have.”
Hemingway does not take her role as a leader lightly. She shared that she was both nervous and excited when she found out she would be joining the 28th Bomb Wing as command chief.
“It is such an honor to be selected as a command chief, and I want to make sure that I am able to do it in a way [that is] effective for airmen,” said Hemingway. “With nervousness, also came excitement for an opportunity to lead in this capacity. I am most grateful for this opportunity.”
Hemingway advises that airmen learn to become committed to their professions. She explained that the sooner airmen commit, the sooner they will understand their role in supporting their nation and the mission.
Hemingway expressed that she is excited to meet and work with everyone on base. Additionally she looks forward to being a part of the bomber community.
“The priorities that we have laid in are so dear and close to the priorities that I have in hashtag SLAY.” said Hemingway. “I want to lead, I am able to lead, and I am going to lead.”