It’s not very often to have both a father and son serving in the military, and it is even less likely that they will be stationed at the same base.
This is not the case for Chief Master Sgt. Darryl Gagne, 23rd Component Maintenance Squadron superintendent, and Staff Sgt. Nicholas Gagne, 23rd Communications Squadron network infrastructure technician, because both of them are currently assigned to Moody. Although this will be Chief’s last assignment because he is retiring soon, he feels as if fate had brought them to Moody.
“It’s a blessing to have Nicholas (Sergeant Gagne) stationed here with me,” said the Chief. “He’s here for a reason, not because I pulled some strings. It was fate and it’s even more special because I will end my Air Force career being stationed with my son.”
Long before this assignment, Chief Gagne began his military career on Aug. 8, 1980, when he enlisted in the Air Force as a jet engine mechanic.
“My father was in the paper mill business and I didn’t want to follow in his footsteps,” said the Chief, a Westbrooke, Maine, native. “I wanted to do something that would make my parents proud, so I joined the military.”
The Chief’s first assignment took him to Plattsburgh Air Force Base, N.Y., and then two years later, to Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Within his five years in the Air Force, Chief Gagne met his wife, Donna, and witnessed the birth of his first son, Nicholas.
This was also the time when the Chief decided to re-enlist and make the Air Force a career.
“It was at my eight-year point when I realized that I should stay in,” he said. “I had already invested several years in the service so I told myself there’s no turning back. At that time, I never imagined I would make senior master sergeant or even chief master sergeant.”
Even though Chief Gagne didn’t put much thought in advancing to the highest rank, he did focus on the Air Force core values and enforcing the standards. These were the types of values he taught Nicholas while growing up.
“One of the things my dad taught me was to never compromise your integrity for anything you do,” said Sergeant Gagne. “He taught me to stick by my decisions and that it’s okay to make mistakes because we’re human. However, the biggest thing is to learn from your mistakes and never make them again.”
Sergeant Gagne took these values with him when he decided to enlist in the Air Force.
“Because my dad was in the military, I was used to that lifestyle so that’s why I decided to join,” he said. “He helped me decide what career field I should be in, but that’s all he did. He wanted to make sure that I joined the Air Force on my own and not with his help.”
Even though Sergeant Gagne didn’t need much assistance from Chief Gagne, he does have one benefit from having chief master sergeant as a dad.
“Having a chief as a dad is a huge benefit because I have a mentor that’s just a call away,” he said. “Even though I don’t want any advice sometimes, he will always mentor me because he’s my dad.”
Surprisingly enough, despite being stationed at the same base and being blood-related, the two rarely see each other.
“Our career fields are so different and we lead very busy lives that we rarely cross paths,” said Chief Gagne. “One of the only times we get to see each other is when we schedule to have lunch together.”
It is these times of mentorship, like lunch dates, that Chief Gagne will miss, but he said it is his time to leave even though he still has the desire to serve the Air Force.
“I’ve dreaded this time for many years now, but I know I have to make room for another chief master sergeant to share their experience and knowledge with our younger airmen,” he said. “I’ll definitely miss the people I’ve had the chance to work with and I’m grateful for being surrounded by good people throughout my career.”
One of the individuals, Maj. Argie Moore, 23rd CMS commander, will miss Chief Gagne, too.
“For the final year of his career, I’ve had the privilege and honor of working with Chief Gagne,” she said. “It has been especially enjoyable for me, being a first-time commander and being mentored by an airman of his caliber.
“I could not have asked for a better chief although he can be a little stubborn,” she added. “Chief Gagne leaves a legacy of enforcing standards, upholding discipline, always acquiring first-class facilities for his Airman and being one the best softball players in the Air Force. He will be missed.”