AFMC Command News

37-year career end “bittersweet” for AFMC Executive Director

  • Published
  • By Marisa Alia-Novobilski
  • Air Force Materiel Command

Bittersweet. For Air Force Materiel Command Executive Director, Patricia M. Young, this one single word characterizes how she feels as her retirement approaches, following nearly 37 years of civil service.

VIDEO | 07:17 | Young retires following 37 years of service

“I will miss the mission, and most especially, I will miss the people,” said Young. “I am ready for more time at home and less email, but it will be hard to leave the mission and the people. It’s time; I think I have done everything that I can for the Air Force, and I’m just ready to circle back and have more time for family and friends.”

When Young assumed the position of Executive Director in 2016, it was very much a homecoming for the leader, who got her start in the Air Force Logistics Command Distribution Directorate as a Palace Acquire Intern in 1985. She had just finished five years as an advisor and faculty member at Wright State University, Dayton, and wanted to expand her career, but not in academia.

A colleague in the Career Planning and Placement Office at Wright Sate alerted her to the internships at Wright-Patterson AFB, and she decided to explore her options.

“I applied and interviewed for logistics, finance, and acquisition, and I really loved the interview with the director in the logistics program,” said Young. “So I opted to go with that one, and it’s been fun and an adventure ever since.”

As an intern, Young was exposed to all aspects of the functional logistics domain, which gave her the solid foundation on which she was able to build the rest of her career. That foundation, along with the in-depth training and networks built with individuals from across the Air Force and Department of Defense, provided a structure for success that carried through her career.

“That foundation and that structure is a boost for success. It’s very purposeful and successful,” said Young. “You meet a lot of people, and it was also very interesting to see folks you grow up with attain higher levels of rank and see the challenges they tackled through their career. You have a linkage of shared experiences and learning from one another.”

Though Young began her career as an Air Force civilian and will also retire as one, her civil service includes time spent in the joint world, including time at the U.S. Transportation Command, Army and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Each position provided exposure to different aspects of logistics, transportation and supply pipelines, with experiential learning along the way.

“Each position had such unique mission roles, responsibilities and challenges that were so different. For example, my last assignment in the joint world was as the Deputy to the Commander for the Army’s Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command--a component of USTRANSCOM. It was so vastly different from my Air Force experience because they oversee transportation for organic and commercial train, truck, sealift, airlift and supply chains to have the full complement of the global logistics pipeline. It was an entirely different world,” she said.

While each position had its own unique challenges, it was the relocation of the SDDC's headquarters and operations center from Alexandria and Ft. Eustis, Virginia, to Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, that proved to be one of the most notable. In a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), typically less than 10% of the civilian workforce will move. However, similar to AFMC, SDDC had a large civilian workforce to relocate. 

“We strategized, had an aggressive communication plan and advertising campaign to convince our workforce to move from the east coast to the heartland of Middle America. We got over 25% of our workforce to move and outplaced the remaining individuals with jobs in the area. It was a huge effort, and it took all of our leaders to be engaged to make this a success for our workforce,” said Young.

A recurring theme throughout Young’s career centers on the relationships and friendships that were developed both with her peers as well as subordinates, supervisors and leaders of the chain. These individuals helped to provide greater understanding of the Air Force core values of integrity, service before self and excellence in action, and they also helped her to understand the importance of ownership of one’s own actions and career progression.

“You have all of these resources and people to avail yourself on, but it’s still your career. It’s your responsibility and it’s going to be what you make it. I’m a firm believer that when I end my day, I have to look at myself and recount my day. What did I do right, and what did I do not so well? It’s looking at yourself and understanding what you can improve and do better,” said Young.

For Young, who grew up on military bases as a child, later married a service member, and also spent her working career as a civil servant, retirement will be a big transition to civilian life.

However, she looks forward to the future and remains grateful for the opportunity to have served the Air Force and the nation through civil service.

“The Air Force cannot be mission successful without a civilian workforce, and it takes military Airmen and civilian Airmen to make it happen. It’s a holistic relationship,” said Young. “In my heart, I am retiring as an Airman. I will be a retired civil servant, but in my mind, I’m a retired Airman with a capital ‘A.’ I think words matter, and it takes all of us to be mission successful.”