Unsung Hero: Cleo Hobbs
By Senior Airman Sergio A. Gamboa, 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 23, 2015
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- By definition, an unsung hero is usually behind scenes and doesn't get the limelight, but this time the tables have turned and out of the shadows comes Cleo Hobbs.
A prior enlisted security and data systems information flight commander for the 325th Training Support Squadron, Hobbs leads 13 security specialists and two client support technicians and one facility manager.
Hobbs is a Memphis, Tenn. native and graduate of Southside High School, where he participated heavily in the JROTC program. After graduating in 1974, he decided to enlist in the Air Force as a law enforcement specialist to serve his country.
"I had two brothers that were in the Air force and I wanted to follow in their footsteps and do something for the country and my family," Hobbs said. "I also saw it as a perfect opportunity to further my education."
During his career in the military he progressed well, receiving accolades, promoting below the zone, earning his bachelor's degree in criminal justice and after 22 years, promoting to chief master sergeant.
If it weren't for his decision to join the Air Force, he would have never met his wife, which led to having his family; a son, who is a 28 year-old medical technician at a VA hospital, and a daughter, who is a nursing student at University of South Florida.
His career in security forces afforded him the opportunity to visit different places. One of those places was during a deployment, and it is one that stands out because it molded him into becoming a better leader and at the end, a chief.
"I went to the desert and I was a senior master sergeant, at the time, in a little compound at Al Dhafra Air Base, and I was the senior ranking enlisted person there so I had a whole lot of responsibilities," Hobbs said. "Because of the mission and the opportunities that were afforded to me there, it helped me to make chief master sergeant.
"My Air Force career since day one has been great," he added. "I look back at it and I know I had an amazing time. I was put in positions that allowed me to excel. I don't look back at it now and doubt any of my decisions. That is how I made chief, being at the right place at the right time, having the right people work for me and working for the right people."
Hobbs decided to retire completing his last years in uniform at Tyndall.
"When I came in I had no idea that I was going to do 28 years," Hobbs said. "I was going to do four years and then get out, but I kept advancing and doing well so I kept going."
It wasn't soon after that he received a job offer to work for Lockheed Martin as a contractor at the 325th Operation Support Squadron.
"I had a smooth transition going from a service member to a contractor," Hobbs said. "I had no problem adjusting to the transition at all; I just fell right into it. I retired on a Friday and started working for Lockheed on the following Monday."
After doing that for eight years, in 2011 the job migrated to the newly stood up squadron, the 325th TRSS and the contracted position became a civilian position. A few years later he became the flight commander he is today.
During his spare time, he likes to go fishing and golfing. He likes it so much he bought himself a fishing boat for his retirement and considers himself an avid golfer, spending most weekends at the greens.
He also volunteers at high schools. Whether it is helping out with a basketball team or mentoring young men keeping them on the right path and off of the streets, Hobbs tries to "pass it forward."
"I had a sergeant who took me under his wing when I was an Airman and he kept me on the right path," Hobbs said. "He made sure that I did the right things, treated people right and took care of them and maintained the core values of the Air Force. That is what I pass on to the younger people."
Hobbs still sees himself working within the Air Force for the next five years and hopefully retiring in 10.
"For now, I have no plans on leaving Tyndall and not anytime soon," Hobbs said.
"Surround yourself with good people, that is the number one thing you should do," Hobbs said. "Keep your faith, and think about the Air Force core values. If you are having a hard time, I don't care who you are, there is always someone who is going to be there for you. Keep your head up. It is not always going to be hard, it will always get better."