When an Air Force NCO attains the rank of chief master sergeant, it is a major milestone in their enlisted career. When Chief Master Sgt. Laurice A. Souron reached this milestone, she was also making New Hampshire Air National Guard history.
Souron became the eleventh female chief master sergeant in the more than 70 years since the New Hampshire ANG came to be, when she promoted on January 7, 2018.
“It’s almost indescribable,” she said, gesturing with both hands in front of her, as if cradling the weight of the rank within them. “It is amazing to be part of this legacy. I only wish there were more of us.”
Souron serves as the 157th Force Support superintendent, here, and is responsible for the supervision of five separate entities: personnel, training, services, honor guard, and recruiting and retention.
“I have four superintendents who report to me and I report directly to the commander,” She said.
Souron enlisted into the California Air National Guard on June 14, 1996, Flag Day. She relocated with her family to join the 157th Air Refueling Wing in November 2014.
“Making the move out here and starting over was certainly an intimidating prospect,” said Souron, as she laughed. “But I’ve been welcomed here with open arms since day one.”
Chief Master Sgt. David J. Obertanec, the New Hampshire state command chief, spoke to Souron’s contributions within the Wing.
“When she first got here, she was instrumental to the three-to-one FSS integration project,” he said.
The Force Support Squadron integration project is an initiative from the office of the Secretary of the Air Force in support of Total Force Integration. TFI pushes for all Air Force components, active, guard and reserve, to function together seamlessly. Members of the 157th Air Refueling Wing collaborate with their active-duty associate unit, the 64th Air Refueling Squadron, to keep the mission here at Pease moving.
“Her knowledge and past career experiences make her an asset,” said Obertanec. “She has done what it takes to get there, to be a good chief.”
Souron cited Wing leaders such as retired Command Chief Master Sgt. James A. Lawrence and the Deputy Commander of the 157th Mission Support Group here, Lt. Col. Kenneth V. Leedberg Jr. as mentors who have set her up for success.
“They saw something in me,” she said. “For that, I am incredibly grateful.”
Leedberg, who served as the Wing Inspector General from December 2014 to December 2016, supervised Souron while she served as the first IG Superintendent.
“There are many qualities and traits that I appreciate about Chief Souron, such as self-awareness and her desire for continuous learning and improvement,” said Leedberg. “Also, if Laurice sees a problem or an opportunity for improvement, she doesn’t leave it for someone else to correct—she gets involved.”
Leedberg explained some of the ways Souron has taken initiative within the Wing.
“She saw an opportunity to improve how the IG office was communicating with the Wing and implemented improvements such as getting out and personally meeting with members of the Wing,” said Leedberg. “She initiated a monthly newsletter and also created monthly “Bite-Size Learning” events to educate members in the Air Force Inspection System.”
During her time at Pease, Souron has been the Top 3 president for nearly the last three years. She also sits on the executive council for NCO and Senior NCO professional enhancement, which facilitates seminars geared toward developing and educating the enlisted leaders of Pease Air National Guard Base.
Souron reflected upon why she participates in those on-base organizations.
“My biggest source of inspiration has always been our junior enlisted Airmen and our NCO corps,” she said, nodding for emphasis. “Being able to interact with them has taught me that mentorship goes both ways. It is rejuvenating. If I could pass something on to them, it would be that they should never stop trying to grow and learn.”