With the Little Rock Snapshot, we want to cast a spolight on the exceptional people we have on base because everyone has a story to tell. We intend to have the "snapshot" in the paper twice a month (roughly every other week). If you know anyone with a unique talent, hobby, history or anyone who has an interesting story and think they would give a good "snapshot", email the 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs at 19AW.PAALL@us.af.mil or call us at 987-5855. Anyone is eligible for submission, Airmen, civilian, contractor, spouse, dependent or retiree.
Col. Tracey Watkins, 19th Mission Support Group commander, is interviewed Feb. 12, 2013, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Watkins has been at Little Rock Air Force Base for almost a year and a half and has been in the Air Force for 21 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal)
Col. Tracey Watkins, 19th Mission Support Group commander, talks with a veteran during the salute to veterans program Feb. 14, 2013, at the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital in Little Rock, Ark. The national salute to veterans program is open to all and a great way to give thanks to those who have given so much. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal)
Col. Tracey Watkins, 19th Mission Support Group commander, prepares for a presentation with Col. Daniel Lockert, 19th Maintenace Group commander and Maj. Frank Theising, 19th Communications Squadron director of operations Feb 20, 2013, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Watkins said that most of his days are consumed by meetings and that he values spending time with the Airmen around base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal)
Col. Tracey Watkins, 19th Mission Support Group commander, helps his daughter with math homework Feb 20, 2013, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Watkins said his five kids are his single greatest accomplishment and that spending time with them is his first priority off-duty. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal)
2/22/2013 - LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- Q: SSgt Scalf: Please give me your full name and your duty title and your rank and introduce yourself. A: Col Watkins: Okay, Tracey Lee Watkins, I go by Trae. I'm a colonel. I'm the commander of the 19th Mission Support Group.
Q: How long have you been at Little Rock Air Force Base, and how long have you been in the Air Force total? A: I've been at Little Rock almost a year and a half coming up on that now, and I've been in the Air Force a little over 21 years.
Q: Where are you from originally? A: I'm originally from Charleston, South Carolina, but the last 20 years I've been moving all around with the Air Force.
Q: Where did you go to college/what is your degree? A: I went to the Citadel, which is in Charleston, South Carolina, and my degree is in Business Administration.
Q: So you went to the Citadel? Do you get a lot of flak from your Air Force Academy counterparts? A: I like to tell them I went to a real school. They counter that, that I paid for it which is only about half true because I was on an Air Force scholarship. But yeah, I catch a little flak for that and a little bit from folks like General McDew who's a VMI grad, one of our major rivals. So yeah, comes with the territory I guess.
Q: Are you married? Do you have children? A: Yep. I'm married, been married 23 years now or almost 23 years. I have five children ranging from ages of 25 down to 11.
Q: Has that been a difficult thing for you, having a large family in the whole Air Force move around environment? A: I think that is one of the major challenges is having a family, any size family, in the Air Force quite honestly. It's a blessing, and it comes with some difficulty as well. But it's been great. We wanted a large family so that worked out well. But it does make its challenging, especially moving as much as we do in the military. I mean we move roughly every two, two and a half years. So I had my oldest child, who went to four high schools, and the one that graduated a year or so ago went to one high school, so I've had both ends of the spectrum. So yeah, the high school thing for kids I think is a little difficult.
Q: What is the strangest thing you've encountered as a commander? A: We've had several here in Little Rock. I never thought when I was commander I'd get to evacuate people from the FAM camp because the lake is getting ready to overtake them. That was kind of an interesting, bizarre thing. There are constantly odd things. Or when you get a call from downtown, asking for your EOD troops to go out to Pocahontas, Ark., and get a grenade out of somebody's backyard, or excuse me not a grenade, an RPG. That's kind of a scratch your head going, really? And it's there and it's live, and they've got to go out and take care of it. So there's numerous, just bizarre things, that you just don't think that we're involved with, or how involved we are with downtown with the community to make sure they know what's going on, on base.
Q: Did you ever see yourself, when you were Lieutenant Watkins, becoming Colonel Watkins? A: Heck no! I didn't see myself becoming Lieutenant Colonel Watkins! When I was a lieutenant I really didn't have the direction of knowing what I was going to do in four years. I like to tell my wife I still haven't decided and she goes, "Oh yes you did." But, when I came in, like a lot of folks, I had an idea of doing my four years, my commitment for my scholarship, and going on and doing something else. But what I found was I really enjoy and love what I do, and I wasn't willing to roll the dice and see that there was something else that I loved to do. And it's kind of the party line. It's not a job, it's a profession, and I enjoy it so I just kept doing it. So I haven't really thought about it since then, but you know, I never thought any of the other ranks would ever have anything to do with me. I just thought about four years and I was done.
Q: What was the best advice that you've ever received in your time in the military? A: It's funny, this is a cliché. I'm not smart enough to come up with new stuff, so I come up with clichés quite a bit. It's bloom where you're planted. I heard it again from a chief two weeks ago. It doesn't matter what you're doing, do it to the best of your ability and you'll be successful.
Q: What do you do with your free time? What do you enjoy? A: Well, kids are the first part of free time, doing what they're doing, whether it's sports or whatever. I seem to be doing a lot of a 5th grade girl's math homework lately. But, you know, I like the PT actually. I'm a huge sports fanatic, mostly North Carolina Tar Heels; pick the sport. My wife laughs at me because it's anything from women's field hockey to basketball to football. I like to read, not as much as I think I do. My wife says I think I read a lot more than I actually read, but I do like to read stuff. That's really kind of it. Spend time with my family and friends.
Q: I'm going to put you on the spot. Think back to your senior year in high school? What was a popular song when you were a senior in high school? A: Prince was popular. I liked Prince, but I'm trying to think my senior year in high school... That was a long time ago. I can't think senior year, my wife will tell you I'm horrible at picking that sort of stuff. Probably Prince or The Cars or somebody like that. 1987 was a long time ago, so I'm not good with names of songs.
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