Retired Colonel reflects on 38 year career

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Xavier Lockley
  • 927th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.-- Amid the moment of silence, looking into the eyes of her family, she takes one more deep breath and prepares for what’s to come.

Eyes looking down from the stage, former 927th Operations Group commander, Col. Caroline Evernham made her way to her seat overlooking a large crowd of service members and civilians there to wish her well in her future endeavors.

After 38 years of honorable service, Evernham proceeded to retired from the Air Force during a ceremony on July 14, 2019 at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

Evernham’s career began back in 1981 where she graduated from the University of Arizona where she graduated and through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program.

As she looked back on her career, she never forgot how she got to this point.

During the ceremony, Evernham ensured that she held onto an important piece of her history, her late father’s Air Force commendation medal that he was awarded during his time in the Army.

“My dad was such an important piece in why I joined and he would’ve been very proud of me,” said Evernham. “My mom made sure that I had it with me because it meant a lot to him to be a soldier with an Air Force commendation medal.”

Inspired by her father’s service, Evernham knew that her future would one day be destined for the military.

“As soon as she got to our wing, she volunteered to deploy,” said Col. Doug Stouffer, 927th Air Refueling Wing commander. “She was that dedicated to the mission that she wanted to go and she was the OG commander, from there on I knew I had a very devoted leader. She genuinely cares for others more than herself.”

The term “service before self,” resonates among Airmen and those whom have served know this term as one of the Air Force’s core values, values in which many believe Evernham embodied.

“My experience working with Col. Evernham spans over nine years and from the moment we started working together, she prioritized her people first and foremost,” said Chief Master Sgt. Alvin Kuper, 63rd Air Refueling Squadron boom chief. “She was always team first, and that made her special.”

A team first mentality is what provided Evernham the ability to lead, but it was the nurturer in her that allowed her to connect more with her subordinates.

“When I think of Col. Evernham, the term I think of first is inspirational,” said Brig. Gen.(Ret.) John Howlett. “She was a very nurturing commander that always held her people to a higher standard but loved them like a mother too and she became an outstanding leader.”

Evernham states that her time as commander allowed her to help others become leaders, some who weren’t aware that they had leadership qualities.

“Working with Col. Evernham, she really taught me valuable lessons about how to approach being an officer the right way,” said 1st Lt. Marc Hogan, 927 OG executive officer. “Her leadership and mentoring skills taught me to further appreciate the work Airmen do on a daily basis. Based on her experience, she thought of me as more as a leader rather than a follower.”

Reflecting on her career, Evernham says it’s time for her new journey to begin back with her family.

“It has truly been an amazing 38 years,” said Evernham. “I will miss the people who made this all possible, but it’s time for me to give back to the people I love as I start my new journey.”