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By 2nd Lt. Chelsea Clark
158th Fighter Wing
Name: Command Chief Master Sgt. Robert T. Letourneau
Military Specialty 9E000, Vermont State Command Chief
Years of Service: 35
Unit Joint Force Headquarters
Hometown: Richmond, Vt.
Current Town: Essex Junction, Vt.
High School: Mount Mansfield Union H.S., 1980
College: Vermont Technical College, 1982
Q. Why did you join the Vermont National Guard?
A. I joined the Vermont National Guard in 1988 after serving four years on Active Duty with the U.S. Air Force. For me personally, the draw to join was being able to continue serving without being subject to the rather nomadic life of an Active Duty Airman. The Guard is the perfect avenue to provide this ability, and I’ve never regretted my decision to join our organization.
Q. What do you do in the Vermont National Guard?
A. I am the current Vermont State Command Chief for the Vermont Air National Guard. My main duties in this position have been to ensure that the Airmen of our organization are taken care of in all situations, have the training and developmental opportunities that they need to advance in their careers provided to them, and are provided a safe environment to grow in. l advise the Adjutant General and the remainder of our leadership team on all of this, and have represented the organization nationally. I am now in the final few months of my tour in this position and will be retiring this coming Fall after 35 years of service.
Q. What do you do for civilian work?
A. I work as a state employee for the State of Vermont Military Department, as the full-time engineering technician for the Civil Engineer Squadron at the Air Guard base. In this position I provide all types of engineering support for the maintenance and updating of base facilities and infrastructure; including performing engineering designs, project management, GPS and traditional surveying, and utilizing AutoCad and Geographic Information System software for design and planning efforts.
Q. What do you think is the greatest benefit of being in the National Guard?
A. The ability to provide service to others through the many avenues that the Guard offers. There are our three main missions where we serve our state citizens during natural disasters, our country by deploying on federal missions, and our partner countries of Macedonia and Senegal through the state partner program. Beyond these all of our members can provide service to the community by participating on the Honor Guard, supporting the Young Heroes program with the Vermont Children’s Hospital, volunteering at Guard run Aid Stations at the Vermont City Marathon, supporting flag details for community organizations, speaking at assemblies and events, volunteering as mentors, etc. Many opportunities for service opened up through membership.
Q. How has being a National Guard member benefited you in your local community and job?
A. It has enabled me to develop contacts and relationships with local legislators, emergency responders, and professionals from the engineering sector. These relationships have been valuable in numerous instances over the years.
Q. What is your most memorable military moment?
A. Deploying locally to Grand Isle County to help the area recover after the 1998 Ice Storm. Relocating residents with medical conditions, providing generator support to farmers so their herds could have water and be milked, clearing roads, restoring power to homes. Very rewarding work.
Q. How long have you lived in Vermont?
A. Aside from my Active Duty time stationed in the local region at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, New York, and Pease AFB, New Hampshire, I’ve have been a lifelong resident of the state. I grew up in the village of Richmond and currently reside in Essex Junction.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of living or working where you do?
A. My favorite aspects of residing in Essex Junction are that it is an active community, close to most everything, and yet still on the “edge” of the population center of Chittenden County. Regarding working at the Air Guard base it would be the many professionals that I interact with daily. Highly skilled, interesting people, who make up a great team.
Q. What has surprised you about the Vermont National Guard?
A. The ability of our units, no matter their manning levels, to tackle complex missions and complete them at amazing levels of accomplishment on a continual basis. Chalk it up to our Yankee work ethic I guess. The ingenuity, skill, and professionalism of our members across the force, and up and down the ranks is incredible.
Q. What is your favorite part about serving in the VT National Guard?
A. Being able to assist others in any way I’m able, and working within a great team.
Q. How many push-ups did you get on your last physical fitness test?
A. I maxed out my pushup score for my age group, 44 total.
Q. BONUS: Ask a question for the next soldier or airmen
A. What skills have you learned through your military training that you now are able to use in your everyday work?