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By SSgt Alexandra Longfellow, 21st Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 30, 2019
Chief Master Sgt. Lee Utsey, 821st Air Base Group superintendent, tours Thule Air Base, Greenland during the Chief of Staff of the Air Force visit July 20, 2019. Utsey leads 170 personnel spanning 27 Air Force specialty codes including personnel from medical, mission support and operations groups. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Longfellow)
Every year, the 821st Air Base Group at Thule Air Base, Greenland, welcomes a chief master sergeant to become the group’s new superintendent.
Chief Master Sgt. Lee Utsey, 821st ABG superintendent, landed at Thule AB in July 2019.
Within the first few weeks of his arrival, Utsey and his team at Thule have been preparing for three consecutive large events— the group’s change of command ceremony, the 21st Space Wing leadership visit and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force visit.
Utsey is the sole chief master sergeant and senior enlisted member in the Air Force’s northernmost and largest overseas base. He leads 170 personnel spanning 27 Air Force specialty codes including personnel from medical, mission support and operations groups. The chief also advises his commander on issues affecting the health, welfare and morale of the unit.
His position at Thule is chosen by the commander of the base. He was up against eight other chiefs.
Utsey started his military career at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, as a security forces member.
“That was a humbling experience,” Utsey said. “That’s when I first knew the body is very resilient and can endure several harsh elements.”
Three years later, he cross-trained into his third choice as a weather observer and forecaster.
“I was reading the job descriptions on the careers and thought it was something different,” Utsey said. “I thought it would be something I could do.”
He worked in the weather flight for 11 years. In 2009, Utsey was selected to become a first sergeant. He served in several squadrons and groups before being picked up as the Basic Military Training first sergeant. He ended his tour at BMT as a squadron superintendent before being picked up as a group superintendent at Thule AB.
“We are at a base that is different than any other,” Utsey said. “We are in a remote location that at one point there is daylight 24 hours for a couple of months, a slight transition and then darkness for a few months.”
Although it may be a different environment than most Airmen are used to, Utsey explained, it shouldn’t change their passion for the mission and their pursuit of personal goals.
“We have the commander’s vision and mission to uphold,” Utsey said. “But we all need personal goals to get through life.”
Utsey’s goals include working towards his master’s degree, improving his financial situation, bettering his fitness and continuing to stay spiritual.
“I will continue to lead by example,” Utsey said. “Set those goals and let’s get at it.”