AF Academy’s top former enlisted role model for cadets retires • United States Air Force Academy
AF Academy’s Top Former Enlisted Model for Cadets Retires
Retired Chief Master Sgt. Bob Vasquez encourages base cadets during an exercise at the US Air Force Academy. Vasquez retired from his position as director of the Cadet Wing Curriculum Branch on February 28, 2022 and worked with cadets for 20 years after retiring from active duty in 2002. ( Photo by the US Air Force Academy)
By Julie Imada, Center for Character and Leadership Development
US AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colorado – A popular former chief master sergeant at the Air Force Academy, retired from his position as director of the Cadet Wing Curriculum Branch on Feb. 28.
Bob Vasquez took on several roles at the Academy after retiring from active duty in 2002 as Chief Master Sergeant, the first rank of enlisted services, including directing the Center for Character and Leadership Development course and the development of its Vector Curriculum for freshmen, a seminar focused on values, leadership growth and self-reflection.
“My job is to develop character leaders,” Vasquez said, referring to the school’s Leader of Character framework, run by CCLD. “I taught the Air Force the core values of integrity, service before self and excellence. The framework is about how we do that.
Cadet 1st Class Sam Vance said Vasquez helped him recover from his school probation and recognize his purpose as a potential officer.
“Chief Vasquez taught me that people won’t follow you if they don’t see you as a leader,” Vance said. “To be a leader, you must know the aspirations of your people and build relationships to help them achieve their goals.”
Major Adam Dyke, head of CCLD’s support division and a graduate of the Academy, remembered Vasquez from his own days as a cadet.
“Chief Vasquez always asked, ‘Isn’t this a great day to be an American warrior?’ with such enthusiasm that you knew he believed in it wholeheartedly and wanted you to believe it too,” he said. “It took time to understand and appreciate his beliefs and intentions, but we We were lucky to have him as an example so early in our careers.”
Although the cadets didn’t see Vasquez on a daily basis, he was a mainstay on campus and they all called him “boss.” They knew he was the originator of the “Words of Wisdom” emails sent to cadets every day and that he traveled around campus chatting with cadets.
“[Cadets] are individuals who want to be treated as individuals and respected,” Vasquez said. “Those 3 a.m. emails were my way of letting the cadets know someone cared about them even in the middle of the night.”
Vasquez said the cadets inspired him to connect with his Hispanic and Native American roots.
“It’s important to celebrate our differences, to live and work in relationship with each other, and to grow as leaders and followers,” he said.
Vasquez said he would spend more time with his family, develop more of his “Powerful Leader Tips” podcasting and “Heir” book series, sponsored by the Air University, and remains in his volunteer position as 40 Cadet Squadron Ethics Advisor.