The 157th Air Refueling Wing’s senior enlisted member will retire May 6 after more than 36 years in uniform.
Command Chief Master Sgt. James “Jamie” Lawrence has served as the principal adviser to the 157 ARW commander and his senior staff on enlisted matters since 2014.
“I think in these positions where you are serving over a thousand people, you are never fully satisfied that you have met everyone’s needs,” said Lawrence, who has been at Pease since 1987. “But my goal was to create a climate where Airmen feel empowered to make change and come forward with good ideas, and I feel very good with the climate we have now; Airmen are able to do that. I feel incredibly good about the high level of professionalism we have in the enlisted force and the high level of confidence our Airmen have.”
Lawrence said his vision coming into the command chief position three years ago was to promote, model and cultivate a climate of dignity, respect, trust, inclusion and strong, effective professional relationships.
“I began in the Force Support Squadron (FSS) and we were considered ‘people helping people,’” said Lawrence. “I had an opportunity to have a lot of close contact with our Airmen leaving and coming back from deployments. I think that gave me a great perspective of the needs of others.”
The chief worked with the FSS for more than 27 years and said the men and women he served with gave him an experience that was invaluable.
“We were a family,” he said.
Senior Master Sgt. Jason Coleman, 157th Mission Support Group superintendent of Personnel, who worked with Lawrence for 13 years, spoke about how he has a way of bringing out the best in people and how he truly cares and listens to each Airmen he meets
“Chief has played a big part in my Air Force career,” said Coleman. “From mentoring me early on in my career up until the present time, he has been there to help guide and provide constructive and actionable feedback.”
Coleman also spoke about the impact Lawrence will leave on the wing.
“Chief has impacted the wing in multiple ways from the priority he places on Professional Military Education (PME) and the continuation of developing and educating our Airmen to his devotion to family and making sure that we treat everyone with respect, professionalism, and dignity,” he said. “I would like to thank the chief and his family for his 36 years of service to our state and nation.”
Lawrence highlighted that during his time at Pease he has been lucky to work in a climate where Airmen can feel comfortable to seek out mentors. He spoke about how some of his mentors have come from every age and pay grade throughout his career.
“Mentorship is synonymous with the words ‘I care about you,’ and it’s vitally important that we not only have supervisors within an Airman’s chain of command, but also members outside of their chain of command that take an interest in their well-being,” he said. “The most exciting thing for me is to see the passion, the energy and the positivity that our junior Airmen bring to their service. It is contagious and that will certainly be one of the many memorable highlights of my career.”
Lawrence explained how his leadership styles have changed as command chief and how other events such as 9/11 have shaped his leadership approach throughout his career.
“As wing command chief I consider myself a much more strategic leader,” he said. “When I deployed to Iraq [in 2005] I served in the capacity of a command chief. That was a great experience dealing with all of the complexities of serving 1,200 people in a remote area to include the very first post-Sadam Hussein Iraq Air Force Squadron (Squadron 23) and thousands of additional coalition forces. It helped to boost my competence and confidence as a chief master sergeant.”
He also spoke about how the days after 9/11 presented challenges for the wing. He discussed how Airmen had to work together and figure things out as a wing. Working through those challenges helped him through the rest of his career.
“Before becoming a wing command chief, I thought I knew how incredible our people were,” Lawrence said. “But since taking this position, a day doesn’t go by that I am just in awe of the great people we have in this wing and how much they care about others, how willing they are to serve and how much they want to make a difference. It’s an incredible feeling that I leave here knowing we can do anything because we have incredible people.”
Lawrence knows the wing will continue to thrive and urges Airmen to take good care of their families and each other.
“Stay together in this crazy, ever-changing world,” he said. “Don’t lose sight of the fact that we are so unique in this country. We have the distinct honor and privilege of wearing this uniform of the United States military. Be proud of your service, continue to grow personally and professionally and do your very best to take good care of your loved ones.”