HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – For the past two years, Col. Chad Ellsworth has led the 66th Air Base Group through a massive regional support mission, while supporting programs offices with a critical global impact.
For the past three months, he’s led Team Hanscom through the first phase of COVID-19 response operations.
Now, as he prepares to relinquish command of the 66 ABG later this month and move onto his next Air Force assignment, Ellsworth and his family are reflecting on their time at Hanscom as residents, community members and teammates.
“It’s hard to leave during such an uncertain time, but we’re excited for the future,” said Ellsworth. “My wife, daughter and I have put our all into this community.”
A year before Ellsworth took command of the ABG, he served as a National Defense Fellow, and resided on Hanscom while he studied at the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Mass. Though he didn’t know he would be taking command until six months into his tour, he said his family’s time as residents helped shape his vision for the future.
“We have such a diverse community of mission partners throughout the region, sister services, retirees and federal civilians who called the base home,” said Ellsworth. “I knew that I wanted to push for open communication, transparency, and making sure that the entire base knew the Air Base Group was there to support them and their missions.”
With a background in logistics, Ellsworth said his appreciation for the acquisition mission has grown tremendously during his time here.
Ellsworth’s mission extended beyond the gates into the community, where he worked as an ambassador for the programs throughout the local community, helping local and state-level leaders better understand the important work being done at Hanscom, he said.
“The agility I’ve seen in just the last three months alone, especially in the world of cyber, has been awe-inspiring,” said Ellsworth. “They were able to give tools to the work force that were so desperately needed almost overnight, and supporting those programs has been phenomenal.”
Upon assuming command in 2018, Ellsworth said his leadership approach was based off ‘Four Be’s: Be effective, be disciplined and be balanced and integrated.’
After COVID-19 swept across the nation earlier this year, the colonel explained that he’s added a fifth element to his philosophy, and that is to be compassionate.
“This has been the most difficult position from a leadership standpoint I’ve experienced in 27 years in the Air Force,” he said. “Everyone has their own story and situation, and having the ability to listen more than you talk goes a long way.”
Hanscom AFB has remained open throughout the pandemic, and Ellsworth credits the mission success to the trust he had in his crisis action team, Reserve augmentees, senior leaders and program executive officers.
“We have a national defense mission that must go on; we couldn’t close up shop,” he said. “I told them I would do what was needed to protect this installation and our workforce, they just had to tell us what they needed to keep it going.”
Through it all, Ellsworth said he’s learned that there is no such thing as over-communication, and the diverse network of the Hanscom community leaned heavily on connections built by the Community Action Board
“A time of crisis is not the time to learn who your neighbors are,” he said. “Having those relationships already on solid foundations really got us through the storm.”
To the mission partners, PEOs, Hanscom community and members of the 66 ABG, Ellsworth said he is grateful for the opportunity to have supported and served alongside each member.
“There are no finer Americans I have ever worked with who knew exactly what to do when they needed to do it,” he said. “I’m so proud to always be able to say I was part of this team.”
Ellsworth said his hope for Team Hanscom is the motto, “Hanscom…The revolution starts here” will continue to bridge the many facets of the installation.
“What I love so much about the motto is that it was something we created to bring people together through such diverse mission sets,” he said. “I hope this motto and sense of inclusiveness lasts the test of time.”
Ellsworth is slated to become the 653rd Supply Chain Operations Wing commander at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, where he will oversee more than 2,700 personnel across 12 global locations. However, he said Hanscom has landed a special place in his family’s hearts.
“Our experience at Hanscom has been phenomenal, and to this point, has been a favorite assignment of ours,” he said. “We’ve fallen in love with the New England area and the culture, and I have a feeling we’ll be back to visit often.”