Retiring civil engineer reflects on 40-year AF career

  • Published
  • By Mark Wyatt
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Many at Hanscom Air Force Base know the retiring base civil engineer for his knowledge and humility, but after more than four decades, many here are unaware of his extensive background. 

Tom Schluckebier’s journey began at the Air Force Academy as a college football recruit.

“I liked the discipline,” he said. “[Being a cadet] was like being in football practice all the time.”

His freshman year, Schluckebier played for legendary NFL football coach Bill Parcells.

After graduating from the Academy in 1982 with a degree in civil engineering, Schluckebier came to Hanscom AFB as a second lieutenant where he held various roles, from program engineer to flight chief, gaining experience and leadership skills.

Following an assignment at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, Schluckebier returned to Hanscom AFB in 1987, this time working acquisition civil engineering.

“I worked on radar programs, overseeing the facilities design and construction aspects of northern radar programs,” he said.

Overall, Schluckebier had four military assignments at Hanscom AFB.

His third assignment was in 1999 as a lieutenant colonel and the Hanscom AFB base civil engineer.

During this assignment, Schluckebier helped to initiate the concept of constructing a cogeneration plant on base. Officials completed construction of the 4.6-megawatt plant in 2021. The plant played a critical role in providing power to the installation during a September 2022 outage, showcasing the base's commitment to advancing installation capabilities.

His final military assignments at Hanscom AFB were as the vice commander of the then-66th Air Base Wing in 2005, followed by wing commander in 2006 until his Air Force retirement in 2008.

Reflecting on his time as the installation commander, Schluckebier spoke about introducing  Hanscom Heroes Homecoming, a ceremony to recognize and honor deployed members. 

"These individuals are heroes. Many of them were separated from their loved ones to fulfill crucial mission requirements,” he said in an article published on the Hanscom AFB website in 2007. “They completed their tasks honorably and upheld the ideals of our great country. For these reasons we should honor them and welcome them back home."

After working two years in the private sector, Schluckebier returned to Hanscom AFB where he has served as the base civil engineer since 2010.

Throughout his tenure, he has emphasized the importance of empowering individuals and fostering a culture of innovation.

Schluckebier said the success of various projects on base has been the result of collaborative efforts from the Civil Engineering Division’s diverse team of individuals, each contributing their unique talents and expertise.

A long list of CE awards is displayed in the hallway of their main building. In total, civil engineers have won more than 50 Air Force Materiel Command and Air Force-level awards during his tenure, including seven announced earlier this year.

Schluckebier expressed gratitude for the opportunities to serve with so many dedicated people, who he said all leave behind a legacy of excellence on the installation.

“We’re a small base, but we do a lot, including being part of pilot projects,” he said. “I’m prouder of the things and the people reflected in those awards than winning the awards.”

Following his decades of service, as Schluckebier prepares for civilian retirement early next month, he said he’s looking forward to spending more time with family, especially his grandson.