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Colonel to assume wing command, leaves legacy

Col. Tracey Hayes, 460th Space Wing vice commander, prepares to assume command of the 90th Missile Wing, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. She has been stationed at Buckley AFB three times for nearly a third of her career. (U.S. Air Force photo by Phillip Houk/Released)

Col. Tracey Hayes, 460th Space Wing vice commander, prepares to assume command of the 90th Missile Wing, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. She has been stationed at Buckley AFB three times for nearly a third of her career. (U.S. Air Force photo by Phillip Houk/Released)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- "Two words: just phenomenal."

That is how Col. Tracey Hayes, 460th Space Wing vice commander, described her third assignment to Buckley. It could also illustrate the opportunity she will undertake this summer when she assumes command of the 90th Missile Wing, F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.

"What being a wing commander really means to me is the opportunity to lead Airmen and make the mission of the 90th Missile Wing successful," Hayes said. "I love working with our Airmen. I love working with people. I think that is what I look forward to most -- going in and being able to help them successfully execute the mission."

During a 22-year career, Hayes built her drive and motivation on three simple concepts Airmen live every day.

"I was really happy when the Air Force adopted the core values because I think that is my driver," she explained. "We all have been given a standard of morals and values to operate in. Of all the core values, integrity hits me the most. It's the easiest for people to define, but it's hardest for people to accomplish."

This is something the 460th SW top-enlisted member has seen in action.

"The main thing that makes Colonel Hayes a successful leader and a capable leader is that she adheres to the core values, maybe more so than any commander that I have encountered," explained Chief Master Sgt. William Ward, 460th SW command chief. "She lives integrity every day. She doesn't compromise her values or her principles. Everything that she puts her name or stamp on is done with excellence."

However, the Air Force is family and many people look to successful leaders in order to help them in difficult situations and make the hard decisions. According to Hayes, her first mentor was that leader.

"He was my squadron commander at the time, and he was the first officer to effectively mentor me," she stated. "I saw him make some really tough decisions, but when he made those decisions, he could back it up with reason and logic. I respect him for that."

For the vice commander who has spent nearly a third of her career at Buckley, she has come to earn the respect of an enlisted corps that doesn't always get a chance for face time with their commanders.

"She is not the type of leader who says one thing and does something else, and I think that really resonates with the enlisted corps," the chief said. "You don't always have to agree with the leader, but understanding that they have not compromised their principles or values, there is a great respect there for her."

This respect is a two-way street -- one that connects Hayes directly with Team Buckley.

"I live by the mantra 'What you see is what you get.' I try to be genuine," the vice commander said. "I genuinely care about the mission. I genuinely care about our Airmen. I genuinely care about our civilians and contractors. Everyone on the team is an Airman to me. And if you take care of the Airmen, they will take care of the mission."

For Hayes, "It comes down to people. I am going to miss the people because that's what makes an assignment rewarding for me."
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