E-1 to E-9: The road less traveled

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Mary McKnight
  • 916 ARW/PA

Chief Master Sgt. Adam Matas, 916th Civil Engineer Flight chief, retired after more than twenty years of dedicated service. His path and story are that of perseverance and motivation.

Matas’ career began at Louis F. Garland Fire Academy on Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas. After long days and multiple evolutions of going through the motions, in and out of training structure, spraying water, and clearing routes with no actual fire, the time came to fight a fire, and he was on the nozzle.

I remember feeling pain, but I refused to stop. I kept on fighting the fire, evolution after evolution, said Matas. His perseverance did not come without sacrifice.

“I took my coat off, and my entire arm, from my wrist to my elbow, had second and third-degree burns,” said Matas.

Rather than allow his injuries and experience to deter him, this experience only motivated him to keep striving for more.

“I had experienced a lot of traumatic events in my early years,” said Matas. “All I ever wanted to do was be better. I was looking for an identity, I wanted to make something of myself, and I felt that if I stayed in South Florida, I wouldn’t get anywhere or become anything.”

As an Active-Duty airman, an Individual Augmentee, and, lastly, a traditional reservist, Matas found his identity.

“Looking back,” said Matas. “I realize how important it was for my career not only to be self-driven but to have mentors to guide me. Those mentors gave excellent advice that resonated with me for the rest of my career. I learned from my good and bad supervisors. Even more from the bad supervisors because it showed me what not to do and how not to treat your people, who are your number one asset.”

Through his experiences and thirst to succeed, leading by example, showcasing the characteristics he has learned and honed throughout his career and duties as a chief.

“Chief Matas has a willingness and desire to take care of people,” said Lt. Col. Alex Holguin, 916 CEF commander. “It was obvious the amount of care and passion that he has for the flight. From day one, when talking to the troops, you could see his compassionate, connecting, yet strong, decisive senior leader approach; that’s the perfect balance for him and something I admire in him.”

Matas’ derived his approach from professional and personal experiences.
“Adam took over his family finances at a very young,” said Stephanie Matas, Chief Matas’ wife, and high school sweetheart. “He’s been the father figure in his family, yet he’s the baby. He’s just always been a leader.”

Matas proves there’s more to being a leader than just wearing the rank.
“People know Adam Matas as Chief Matas,” said Mrs. Matas. “And he is amazing at what he does. I’ve never heard an ill word about him through anybody, not even through rumors. When he wants something done, he’s going to get it done. There’s no stopping him. He is a great delegator and possesses so many great qualities, but above all, he’s a family man first, above anything.”

As the old saying goes, it takes a village.

“I would have never made it to where I am today without the love, support, and encouragement of my family, friends, and co-workers,” said Matas. “Resiliency is a real thing, as I have dealt with many trials and tribulations, from deaths within my family to hurricane Florence destroying my home in 2018 and COVID shutting the country down as soon as we moved back into our new home. During these tragedies, I never missed not one UTA. I learned a lot about myself during this time and what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”

Thank you, retired Chief Master Sgt. Adam Matas, for your dedicated service, you will be missed.