Holloman NCO one step from doctorate

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Ray Bowden
  • 49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Chief Master Sgt. Bobby Packard, 49th Maintenance Group superintendent, has two significant milestones looming on the horizon: Sept.1, when he retires after 30 years of service, and May 21, when he will meet all course requirements needed to attain his Management and Leadership Doctorate. 

A common challenge faced by many Airmen is balancing educational and professional pursuits. 

Instead of making excuses, Chief Packard earned two master's degrees, one bachelor's degree and a Community College of the Air Force degree, all while on active-duty. 

The chief faced other challenges as well. 

Four months after beginning his doctorate, he deployed to Balad Air Base, Iraq, expecting to find the environment too austere to facilitate higher learning. Fortunately, deployed 49th Communications Squadron Airmen provided internet connections within the base and Chief Packard was off and running, taking classes via the internet. 

"Although it was challenging being attacked every night and day with rockets and mortars, being able to perform my war-time mission in an active combat zone was the most rewarding experience of my 30-year career," he said. "There is something about diving for cover while in the middle of writing a major assignment." 

While showing Airmen they could achieve their educational goals under any circumstance was rewarding, the chief confessed he was not always so dedicated. 

"I don't think I caught the education bug until after I finished my CCAF, which was not until I had been a master sergeant for two years." 

Eventually, Chief Packard realized education was positively impacting his professional and personal life, particularly while pursuing his bachelor's of science degree through Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. 

"Not only was it helping my board score for promotion purposes, the information I learned helped me perform my duties better and use critical thinking skills to handle life's ups and downs." 

Col. Gary Bryson, 49 MXG commander and Chief Packard's immediate supervisor, agrees. 

"Education takes tremendous personal involvement," he said, "But when you start to learn more, as Chief Packard has, you see organizations in a different light and nip away at the edges to make your organization stronger. This is how Chief Packard has used his learning to benefit us today." 

Chief Packard said he entered the human relations and education master's degree program partly to assist others in becoming better Air Force leaders and managers. 

"In terms of enlisted influence and obligations, education is of great importance to bettering one's self and the Air Force," he said. "Subordinates can and should appropriately challenge their superior's proposals and help them avoid mistakes." 

Chief Packard believes higher education equals higher enlisted credibility and is a crucial link in influencing supervisors. 

"Chief Packard applies his doctoral coursework to the flightline, where he has taken activities we are involved in, analyzed them for course requirements and then applied it to the betterment of the MXG, said Colonel Bryson. 

Chief Master Sgt. Marjorie McNichols, 49 Fighter Wing command chief, said Chief Packard proves Airmen can reach their educational goals no matter the circumstance. 

"Bobby's story shows that the Air Force provides the opportunity for each and every one of us to get an advanced degree if we have the where-with-all to go after it," she said. "It's an awesome achievement, but it can be done." 

Chief Packard said he plans to enter the management consulting field after retiring and has been approached by a few global consulting firms. 

"Job hunting and preparing to transition out of the Air Force has been an exciting adventure," he said. "The Air Force has given me great values to adhere to and awesome experiences to challenge myself. With the help and support of my family, I feel I'll be as successful on the outside as I have while wearing this uniform." 

Chief Packard said he will work on his dissertation during the upcoming summer and fall months and graduate with a full doctorate in July 2008, at a formal ceremony held in Phoenix.