SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
“33 years ago, I remember walking toward the wing headquarters building as an Airman in Training and saluting an empty government vehicle merely because it had an eagle placard. Today, I pulled up to the same building with an eagle placard on my vehicle. It was very surreal!”
For Col. Timothy MacGregor, Air Education and Training Command Inspector General Inspection Division chief, coming back to Sheppard brought more than and inspection of the 80th Flying Training Wing and 82nd Training Wing – it brought back memories of when his career began.
MacGregor said when he first arrived to Sheppard as an Airman Basic in 1983, he was approached by two officers – a captain and a second lieutenant. As the officers approached, MacGregor nervously snapped a salute and continued on. After the officers passed, they called back to the young MacGregor who anxiously froze in his tracks and turned around. The second lieutenant approached and handed MacGregor a folded dollar bill because he was the recently-commissioned officer’s first salute. MacGregor kept that dollar bill with him for over thirty years as a reminder of when his Air Force career began.
“My return was very symbolic and sentimental,” MacGregor said. “My time at Sheppard was pivotal in preparing me for the rest of my Air Force Career.”
While at Sheppard, MacGregor spent a lot of time walking amongst the static displays, particularly the T-38 near the dorms. As he admired the statics, he dreamt that someday he would become a pilot or enlisted aircrew member, MacGregor said.
After training to become a medical administrative specialist at Sheppard and a 1-year remote to Kunsan, Korea, MacGregor found himself stationed at the Air Force Academy Hospital where he applied as a cadet, was accepted, earned a commission, and his dream of becoming a pilot became a reality.
33 years since he first came to Sheppard, MacGregor has been a medical administrative specialist, pilot, chief of public affairs, held multiple command positions and is now with the AETC Inspector General’s office. Through the Air Force, he has earned a bachelor’s degree, three master’s degrees, visited 59 countries across six continents and completed 3,800 flight hours while commanding or soloing eight different U.S. Air Force aircrafts – including 465 combat hours.
“It was a privilege returning to Sheppard as part of the Inspector General team representing the AETC commander, and providing the commander with an assessment of how well both wings are training officers, enlisted and pilots to serve in our Air Force,” MacGregor said.
Before his departure from Sheppard, MacGregor visited the basement of the base clinic to speak with the airmen of the 82nd Medical Group that are in the same career that he began in. As a former medical administrative specialist, he makes a point to remember where he came from and let the airmen know that without them, people and their families would not be able to get the medical care they need, MacGregor said.
“They directly impact the mission,” MacGregor said. “I am grateful and appreciative of their work, and I always make sure to thank them for what they do.”
MacGregor also had one important message to the young airmen that a just beginning their careers.
“Don’t ever stop learning and striving to advance your education,” MacGregor said. “Be excellent in your job. Obviously get through technical school first. Then, show up at your base and do everything possible to be the very best airman, both professionally and technically, that you can be.”
MacGregor said that between both Sheppard and the Air Force as a whole, he has learned many lessons throughout his career.
“Don’t ever stop chasing your dreams, no matter how high or out of reach they seem,” MacGregor said. “You never know when you might just reach them. And as you reach for your dreams, take the time to help others reach theirs. Just as you will never reach yours alone, others won’t reach theirs alone either.”