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Airman profile: Nothing short of amazing

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Christina Russo
  • 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

In our ever-busy world, it’s easy to come and go and not take the time to know the Airmen serving beside us. Every Airman has a unique story, and Tech. Sgt. Kimberly Hickey, NCOIC of the 910th Airlift Wing legal office, is no exception.

Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Hickey began her life unlike many. From her time in Asia to moving to the states, Hickey’s childhood was filled with constant travels.

Traveling around the world was a normal routine for Hickey and her family. After leaving the service, her father, a Marine, became a teacher and taught all over the world.

Growing up in northern Wisconsin, Hickey didn’t have any military bases close by to influence her decision in one day serving her country. However, her father did.

“My dad had been in the Marine Corps,” said Hickey. “So he was like a natural recruiter.”

Following in her father’s footsteps, Hickey enlisted in the Marine Corps and thus began her career in the military.

“I turned 19 in boot camp at Parris Island,” said Hickey. “My first duty station was Okinawa, Japan. I went to the 3rd Marine Division where I worked in Division Personnel.”

In 1993, Hickey left Japan and began a new chapter in her career.

“I went to headquarters Marine Corps,” said Hickey. “I worked in the personnel office there as the NCO.”

Hickey’s journey didn’t stop there. Her standout capabilities were quickly noticed and just like that, another chapter in her career began.

“I was competitively selected to work for the under Secretary of the Navy at the Pentagon,” said Hickey. “It was Richard Danzig at the time who later became the secretary.”

Her time working at the Pentagon was an eye-opening experience.

“You don’t really see all the policy and decision-makers until you work at the Pentagon,” said Hickey. “Then you just see them walking around the hall with their coffee cup. You see them all as people. You’re not just reading about their policy.” 

Before leaving active duty in 1995, Hickey had the chance to meet the late Colin Powell and his wife. It was moments like that that Hickey cherishes and is grateful for.

After serving her country for eight years, Hickey felt as though her time in the military was over. So closing that chapter in her life, she began working in the private sector while attending graduate school.

Several years passed and Hickey finished graduate school, obtaining a paralegal certificate, but the military wasn’t quite done with her yet.

“An opportunity with the Department of Veterans Affairs opened in Milwaukee,” said Hickey. “It was nice to be back in the federal government working with veterans and also working with drilling and active reservists.”

Hickey didn’t know it at the time but her 13-year break in service would soon end.

“At that point, a lot of my friends who I worked with there were like ‘you know Kim, you shouldn’t throw away that time because eight years is a long time, and so I started talking to the recruiters again,” said Hickey. 

Unfamiliar with any of the other branches of the military, Hickey started her inquiry with the Marine Corps Reserve.

“I then interviewed with almost all the services,” said Hickey.

But it was the Air Force Reserve recruiter that sealed the deal for Hickey.

“I tell people that the Marine Corps led me to the Air Force,” said Hickey. “When I first met my traditional reserve recruiter, she had also served in the Marine Corps. She got out as an E-6 like I did and we had that instant rapport.”

Their Marine Corps connection was what sealed the deal for Hickey. With the help of her recruiter, Hickey transitioned seamlessly into her new role as an Airman, because once again her capabilities and willingness to serve her country shined bright.

During her early years in the Air Force, Hickey served in the public affairs office at the 934th AW in Minneapolis. Over time her civilian jobs would take her to Virginia, New York and eventually Ohio.

“Currently I work as an immigration officer in Cleveland,” said Hickey. “This is my third year, so I’m a mid-level immigration officer.”

Just as her civilian jobs evolved over time, so did her military one. Now a paralegal and NCOIC of the legal office at the 910th AW, Hickey is nearing the end of her military career.

“March of next year (2022) will be 19 years,” said Hickey. “So even with my 13-year break in service I’m finally nearing that finish line.”

As Hickey enters into her final chapter with the military, only one thing weighs heavy on her heart.

“My last goal as I’m entering the last years of my military career is really just to ensure I’m leaving the legal office in good shape,” said Hickey. “That I’ve really well-trained the paralegals that are coming up behind me who will sit in my position when I leave.”

Looking back on her life, Hickey was always moving, always developing, always obtaining the goal she set for herself.

“It really means a lot to me to be able to use all of my educational experience to develop the people that work for me,” said Hickey.

Hickey’s mindset of educating and giving back to the Airmen below her echoes the Air Force core value of service before self.