The Hedrick Hat-Trick: 180th Airman scores three awards in one year
By Master Sgt. Elizabeth Holliker, Public Affairs
/ Published May 05, 2012
Swanton, Ohio -- A Hat-trick is a term that has been acknowledged in the world of sports since 1877 and is considered a series of three victories, successes or accomplishments during one game by a single player. The player who accomplished the victories was awarded with a cap, or hat. Hat-trick did not gain notoriety until the mid-1940s when it was adopted by the National Hockey League to highlight a single player scoring three goals in one game.
For Tech. Sgt. Bruce Hedrick, a command post controller at the 180th Fighter Wing, his hat-trick was earned when he scored three major awards at the local, state and national levels during 2011. First scoring the title of Noncommissioned Officer of the year for the 180th FW, he then moved onto the state Ohio Air National Guard NCO of the year competition where he scored the title of NCO of the year for the state. Closing out the hat-trick, Hedrick then earned the title of 1st Air Force Aerospace Control Alert Command Post Controller of the Year.
These significant awards speak volumes about the professionalism and dedication Hedrick has exhibited throughout his career, but his greatest accomplishment is being part of an award winning team.
"Individual accolades aside," said Hedrick, "I take pride in being part of the first back-to-back winnings of the 1st Air Force Aerospace Control Alert Unit of the Year as well as the Air National Guard Command Post of the Year awards."
The 180th Fighter Wing Command Post earned the title of ANG Command Post of the Year in 2010. The success of the command post directly contributed to the 180th Fighter Wing being the first ANG wing to score the title of 1st Air Force ACA Unit of the Year two consecutive years in a row in 2010 and 2011. As a command post controller, Hedrick is an integral part of these accomplishments.
Though 2011 panned out to be a highlight for Hedrick, he has had anything but an ordinary military career, filled with multiple milestones and accomplishments in 10 short years.
An Ohio native who graduated from Elyria High School, near Cleveland, Hedrick attended the University of Toledo majoring in computer science before enlisting into the Active Duty Air Force in 2002, as an aerial cryptologic linguist. In 2003, Hedrick transferred to the 180th Fighter Wing as a traditional guardsman visual information specialist before retraining and accepting a full-time position in the 180th FW command post in 2008.
Even early on as a visual information specialist, Hedrick continually demonstrated initiative, technical expertise and knowledge in this career field beyond his years. These are attributes that aided in his selection for a short tour to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates in 2004. Filling a position above his rank and skill-level, as a graphic artist, Hedrick provided not only visual information support to the deployed wing, he also assisted the public affairs office in VIP and media escort duties. He took it upon himself to learn the fundamentals of photography and videography to better support the wing.
"The deployments certainly stand out in my career," said Hedrick. "Those are the times when you build camaraderie and trust with your peers."
Following this successful deployment, Hedrick was selected by the Visual Information Functional Area Career Field Manager at the National Guard Bureau to perform two stat tours. In 2005, Hedrick provided direct support for the National Guard hurricane response, building status briefings for NGB senior leadership highlighting the current and future operational picture of the National Guard's response and involvement with hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.
In 2006, Hedrick began his second, 17-month tour working at the NGB with the career field manager as a liaison between 88 ANG field units and the career field manager during the ANG multimedia and public affairs merger.
"I learn something new every day, but the biggest learning curve I've had thus far was when I was on a title 10 tour as a senior airman at the National Guard Bureau working for the Audiovisual FAM," Hedrick said. "It was a fast-paced environment and certainly pushed me."
Hedrick is the first in his family to pursue a career in the military, but the family and teamwork oriented atmosphere that he has discovered while serving has been one of the most enjoyable aspects to date. "When push comes to shove, we have each other's back and strive to succeed and this has been evident during our recent inspections," said Hedrick.
Though Hedrick's motto is to "Lead from the Front," that same family and teamwork atmosphere that his peers and leadership have shown him is what he credits his success to. He mentions that there isn't one single person that has helped to shape his career, but that all supervisors and officers that he has worked with have helped him along his path in different ways.
In order to begin and maintain a successful military career, Hedrick advises every young Airman to find a mentor early on. He has had many mentors over the years, but two stick out in his mind.
"I've had two supervisors in my career that have had pretty serious health issues," Hedrick explains. "They continued to show up to work, when able and not let their issues become distractions. It was an eye opening situation both times and made me realize that if they can continue to work while dealing with their health issues, I certainly had no excuses."
Continuing in that fashion, Hedrick recently completed the Noncommissioned Officer Academy at McGhee-Tyson Air National Guard Base, Tenn., while simultaneously working toward the completion of his undergraduate degree in information technology. He is enrolled at the American Military University and plans to graduate in 2013 while continuing his full-time position in the command post.
Next up, Hedrick is hoping to apply for and be accepted into the Joint Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy and possibly enroll in a master's degree program.