Hatcher retires from career inspired by grandfather’s flying stories

  • Published
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Maj. Steven Hatcher retired from active duty during a ceremony held at 1 p.m., Friday, July 23, in the 3rd Flying Training Squadron auditorium.

After the ceremony, Hatcher shared insights from his 20-year Air Force career.

Why did you join the Air Force?
“From the time I was very young I was inspired to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps as a military pilot. I loved to hear his stories of instructing new naval aviators and later his time as a crop-dusting pilot. The Air Force officer training school was the best path for me and my family to achieving wings.”

What’s your best memory of your first assignment? 
“My C-17 dollar ride is probably the best memory I have at Charleston (Air Force Base, South Carolina) for several reasons.
“First, in preparation I asked my aircraft commander what color shirt to wear under the desert flight suit. I was told I should wear the squadron T-shirt. So when I showed for my first trip in a red T-shirt I earned the nickname ‘Navy Steve.’
“This first trip included my first ocean crossing, first trip outside the United States, first inflight emergency and divert, and a week broken in Gander, Canada, in the middle of winter.”

What are three reasons you would recommend the Air Force as a career?
“This is easy as it’s also why I’ve stayed in for 20 years.
“First, there is no better path to wings. Nowhere else can a pilot with zero hours start training in a turbine, aerobatic, complex aircraft.
“Second is comradery. I love being able to work with hardworking smart people who have the same core values of integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do.
“And last, is job security and benefits.”

What advice would you give an airman or lieutenant just starting their Air Force career?
“Take advantage of all the education opportunities you are given early in your career. It will open up options that you haven’t even considered yet.”

What is the biggest change you’ve witnessed in the Air Force?
“Probably the Path to Wings. I think the change is for the better and is still producing quality pilots.”