LATHAM, N.Y. (March 2, 2022) – A veteran pararescue jumper who served in the Gulf War in 1991, and went on to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan in the War on Terror, will be the next senior enlisted leader for the New York Air National Guard.
106th Rescue Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Michael Hewson will replace Command Chief Master Sgt. Denny Richardson, during a March 10 ceremony at New York National Guard headquarters in Latham.
Hewson, a resident Glendale in Queens, New York City, has been serving as the 106th‘s senior enlisted leader since 2016.
“I decided to apply for the New York State command chief to try and make as much improvement in the state as possible,” Hewson said. “I have always looked to put myself in a position where I can take care of people, whether its saving lives or creating a place where Airmen to stay their entire career.”
Joining the New York Air National Guard in 1989 after two years on active duty, Hewson spent his career as a pararescue jumper with the 106th.
On the civilian side, he worked from the Suffolk County Police Department in their Emergency Services Unit, from which he retired from in 2018 after 25 years of service to focus on his role as the command chief of the 106th.
“Being a PJ [pararescue jumper] and emergency services, there was a lot of overlap in the two jobs,” Hewson said. “I received training and experience from both which made me very proficient.”
His experience led to Hewson being asked to conduct all of the training for the Emergency Services Unit, where he would share his experiences from his Air Force training and deployments.
Hewson said the experience of being a police officer helped keep his Air Force skills sharp.
“I would say the training I got being a PJ was better, but the day to day use of that training in the Emergency Services Unit sharpened those skills,” he said.
As part of the 106th, Hewson has deployed to the Horn of Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan, including service in Operation Desert Storm, the Persian Gulf War in 1991.
He also supported NASA space shuttle launches, civilian search and rescue operations, long-range open ocean rescue missions, hurricane relief and responded to the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center.
“My goals will be to continue the development and mentorship programs that the state command chiefs before me started,” Hewson said.
Another goal Hewson said, is to standardize promotion and development opportunities across the state in the same way the 106th did during his time there.
“If you set clear expectations, most people will not only meet them, but they will exceed them,” he added. “Tie in a fair and consistent recognition program and hopefully our Airmen stay for 20 or more years.”
Maj. Gen. Denise Donnell, the commander of the New York Air National Guard, emphasized that is important for the state command chief to connect with Airmen of all ranks, from the newest of recruits to the most senior generals in the state.
“Chief Hewson’s focus on professional development and retention of our service members and their families make him the perfect fit for New York’s next state command chief,” Donnell continued.
“Together, Chief Hewson and I will work to ensure the safety, strength and readiness of our five wings and the Eastern Air Defense Sector,” she said.
A major goal, Hewson said, is to keep the state’s six wing command chiefs working together.
As the largest Air Guard in the nation, there is a lot expertise in the senior enlisted ranks, he said.
“We are in a great position where we have five wings and the Eastern Air Defense Sector,” Hewson said. “We can share information and best practices with each other without ever leaving the state.”
He also said visiting the wings during drill weekends and during regular work weeks will also be a priority, to get to know both the full-time workforce as well as traditional drill status Airmen.
“Our full-time force carries the workload to prepare our drills to be effective training for our drill status Guardsmen, who I’d like to hear from also,” he continued. “I like to be honest and transparent, and like the challenge of having to answer questions to as large a group as possible.”
Hewson said the biggest thing that has set him up for success as the next state command chief is his ability to work with others and consider everyone’s input in the decision making process.
“Listening to your Airmen is only the first step,” he continued. “You have to address the concerns they have and if you do, they will keep coming back.”
During his career, Hewson’s major awards have been two Meritorious Service Medals, the Air Medal, two Aerial Achievement Medals, the Air Force Commendation Medal, two Meritorious Unit Awards and two Combat Readiness Medals.
|Date Posted:||03.02.2023 12:47|
|Location:||LATHAM, NY, US|