Superintendent of the 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs Office at Whiteman Air Force Base Beth Del Vecchio has been in her current position since January but has held a number of previous roles during her 21-year career in the U.S. Air Force.
Del Vecchio began her career in public affairs at Randolph Air Force Base in 2005 after six years as a security forces member.
Del Vecchio then received an assignment to serve at the U.S. Forces Korea headquarters in South Korea.
Del Vecchio then was stationed in Guam for a few years before being stationed in Texas at the Air Education and Training Command, where she was promoted to E-7, Master Sergeant.
Del Vecchio later worked at the Air Reserve Personnel Center at Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado.
Prior to her position at WAFB, Del Vecchio was stationed in South Korea for the second time, at Osan U.S. Air Force Base.
Those in the 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs Office work directly under 509th Bomb Wing Commander Col. Jeffrey Schreiner.
Del Vecchio said working in public affairs is a gratifying experience for her as she gets to tell the Air Force’s story and be a visible part of the base’s mission.
What would surprise most people to learn about your job?
“A lot of people ask me what I do. I say that I’m a photojournalist and they say, ‘That sounds really cool’ and they probably picture someone like (a reporter) in their head, someone doing a lot of interviews. I did do that back in the day, but now that I’m a Master Sergeant, my main job is admin and taking care of the team. Training and equipping the team to be able to support the commander and his efforts to communicate the mission here at Whiteman. So I am technically a photojournalist, or now more of a mass communications airman, but really because of my rank I’m doing what I really love which is taking care of the team and steering the team correctly, making sure they have everything they need to be successful.”
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
“As rewarding as having a team of people is, it’s sometimes challenging because you can’t make everybody happy all the time. So it’s making sure that you’re doing right by your entire team and making sure they have everything they need not only on the job, but in general as a person. That’s the thing about the Air Force: It’s a lifestyle, which sounds kind of weird, but we have to maintain a certain physical fitness, we can’t have bad credit, we have security clearances. Those are the types of things special to the Air Force. When you’re managing a team of airmen, you have to be able to help them with all of those things so you have to be a friend to them, sometimes a parent. If you think about a brand-new airman who’s 18-years-old, moved out of his parents’ house for the first time and now all of a sudden he’s in the middle of Missouri living in a dorm. I’ve seen airmen who had never done their own laundry before or never had to get their oil changed in their car before. As a superintendent, I have to help them with all those things if they have a question or run into a problem. Anytime you’re dealing with people, sometimes it can be challenging, but rewarding.”
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job or career?
“The team aspect I definitely enjoy the most about where I’m at in my career, but I think working in the armed forces is a great responsibility and it’s very rewarding. Anytime I’m in my uniform, people thank me for my service and go out of their way to thank me for my service. That’s very special to me and rewarding in itself. I try to be humble about it. I don’t necessarily want that or think that it’s great or cool, but I recognize it’s a form of respect, so I appreciate that and it’s my pleasure to serve. My father was in the Navy during the Vietnam War and it was a totally different world for them. They didn’t get an ounce of the respect that we get. They would literally be spit on in airports. And here I am with people literally running down an aisle to say, ‘Thank you for your service,’ it’s just two different worlds. I don’t carry that responsibility lightly. I definitely take stock in that and appreciate that. Wearing this uniform, I always refer to it as a team, so it’s a great team to play for.”
Would 10-year-old you be surprised that you are in this position or field?
“Oh my gosh, yes, for sure. I’ll probably retire and do what my 10-year-old self wanted to do and pursue a job at a public library. I’d definitely be surprised. I’d probably be like, ‘Wow I know a lot of big words now and I’m so responsible.’”
What advice would you give someone starting a job similar to yours?
“I think public affairs is the best job in the Air Force. I’m a creative person, so I think being able to work a job in the military but also be creative is special. What comes with that is you have to stay up with all the latest technologies when it comes to Photoshop and InDesign and all the different programs we use to edit photos and stuff like that. You also need to be in tune with the media and what’s going on around the world so that you can translate that into your individual mission and the strategic mission. I think my biggest advice would be to always seek out education, stay informed and never stop learning.”