Retired Chief still serving
By Maj. Matthew T. Mutti, Wing Executive Staff Officer, 104th Fighter Wing
/ Published April 02, 2011
Barnes Air National Guard Base, 104 Fighter Wing - Westfield, Mass -- With his military career beginning in 1973, the last thing Chief Master Sgt. Laurence Heller ever did was to imagine his life 38 years in the future, when he would put his military uniform on for the last time; but as he humbly said to me during a one on one interview in January, all good things come to end, but what a ride it has been".
It was clear to me that Chief Heller's fondest memories were when he recollected working alongside his fellow Airmen, either within the 104th Fighter Wing or when assigned to the Tennessee Air National Guard, at the 118 Airlift Wing out of Nashville.
In his career, he has served as a logistic/supply NCO; attached to an aerial port and as a medical team member, as an X-Ray tech and a Flight Medicine Tech. He was able to harness all of his lessons learned and experiences when he was selected to serve as the senior enlisted member of the wing, appointed the Command Chief Master Sgt. for the 104th Fighter Wing.
"I really enjoyed the time I spent as the Command Chief," said Chief Heller. "I was able to work for and represent all the enlisted members of the base, serving as their liaison to the commander." In 2002, Chief Heller deployed to Afghanistan as a command chief, providing support to 760 deployed Airmen and Soldiers.
He did not only influence the Airmen under his mentorship, but his family, instilling values of service, excellence and integrity. With 2 sons and a daughter, James, Jason, and Laura, service was taught from a young age. James, 29, is a Coast Guard Lieutenant (O-3) who flies HU-25 Falcons. Jason, 27, is a Captain and serves in the Active Duty Air Force as an Aeronautical Engineer, and his daughter Laura, 26, is a paramedic with AMR in Springfield.
Before his retirement, he was able to work alongside his oldest son, and fly with him during a Coast Guard mission, patrolling restricted waterways of the New England shore. "It was very neat to sit behind my son as he is just begins his military career as Coast Guard pilot, and I prepare to transition out of mine."
Following his retirement, the Chief, or Trooper, as he is referred to at his full time job; will continue serving as a member of the State Police, assigned to the State Police Academy out of New Braintree Mass.