Farewell to the Chief

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Daniel Phelps
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
She walks around the base with a poise and confidence that silently declares "she's in charge." As she addresses Airmen at commander's calls her voice carries out across the room, some have flashbacks of an earlier time in their career.

But, beneath the intimidating persona of Chief Master Sgt. Nancy Judge, 39th Air Base Wing command chief, beats the heart of a compassionate leader.

"Chief Judge is the perfect combination of tough and caring," said Jenna Fletcher, 39th Air Base Wing director of staff. "Usually a leader will be one or the other; it's rare to come across one who is both."

Throughout her almost 28 years in service, Judge has served as a bomb loader, a communications specialist and has devoted much of her time to taking care of Airmen and the Air Force through being an Airman Leadership School instructor and a Basic Military Training instructor.

"I thought I recognized her when I arrived," said Chief Master Sgt. Lori Gawan, 39th Mission Support Group superintendant. "She was actually one of the MTIs at basic when I joined. She didn't run my flight, but I remember seeing her around the area."

Judge arrived at Incirlik Air Base in September 2011 to take on her first assignment as a command chief.

"I was very excited about this opportunity, but also a little nervous at the same time," she said.

Though she was new to being a command chief, she quickly stepped into pace at Incirlik.

"She's very good at what she does," Fletcher acknowledged. "She's confident, thinks clearly and she puts Airmen first in every decision she makes."

Whenever the command chief would go out to interact with Airmen, she would always come back fired up and excited, Fletcher said. Judge would toil for long hours to ensure the Airmen received what they needed.

"She doesn't look at herself, the budget, etc.," Fletcher continued. "She looks at what is best for the Airmen and works around that."

While Gawan was on a temporary duty assignment at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, she was greeted with comments regarding Judge's reputation when she stated where she was stationed.

"There were several people there that knew Judge," Gawan said. "As soon as I said her name, eyes brightened, smiles flashed, and I was given comments of '... she is just awesome, isn't she' and '... she's an exceptional leader!'"

Fletcher added that Judge has also taken the time to mentor those around her at Incirlik.

"She has been a great friend and mentor to me," Fletcher continued. "She has gotten me to get out of the house. I'm usually a homebody."

Together, Fletcher and Judge did a Dirty Dash and Warrior Run, both base fitness events, and visited Istanbul and Heaven and Hell, a local Turkish attraction.

"Chief Judge has always had an open door, and there have been many times that I've had to seek her advice," Gawan said. "I don't pretend to know everything, and there are always differences of opinions on situations. So, having her talk me through those 'what ifs' and 'how should I do this' has been extremely helpful."

With all of the great things people have to say about her, Judge points back to the Airmen.

"Being able to go out and interact with Airmen here and see how thrilled they are about what they do every day stands out the most to me," Judge said. "I loved being able to see the whole base mission from marshalling planes to seeing the excitement of a contracting airman 1st class as they walked me through a contract's process from 'cradle to grave.'"

From day one at Incirlik, Judge said she was impressed with the Airmen and the sense of community.

"I rode around in the staff car every day for two years, and not once did I see an Airman not salute the commander's car," Judge said. "It's the professionalism and attention to detail of Airmen like that that makes us successful."

As Judge departs Incirlik AB and moves onto her next assignment at the 67th Network Warfare Group at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, she offered some final advice to Airmen at Incirlik AB.

"Treat people with respect, focus on their strength, and capitalize on their differences," she said. "Those differences are what make our Air Force strong."