By Master Sgt. Betsy Winstead, 172d Airlift Wing
/ Published February 01, 2020
THOMPSON FIELD, JACKSON, Miss. --
He joined the Mississippi Air National Guard when he was 17, starting his career in the 172d Security Forces. Two years later, he was deployed to Afghanistan. When he came home from deployment, he began looking for a different career path and cross-trained into maintenance as a Crew Chief. Over the past nine years, he’s progressed in rank and followed the typical service path, completing Airman Leadership School, an Associate of the Arts and Community College of the Air Force degrees. He also landed a full-time maintenance job and has ambitions to further his education with the ultimate goal to make chief. Technical Sergeant Todd M. Wicha is almost to the half-way point of a typical twenty-year career. However, his circumstances and motivations are what make his career atypical.
Right before he joined the Guard, Wicha found out he was going to be a father. As a teen-pregnancy statistic, he says he knew he didn’t want to struggle to make a living at a dead-end job flipping burgers, go to college, and take care of a child all at the same time. Instead, he knew he needed a stable career that would provide a living for his family and allow him to pay for college. Fortunately, Wicha had family and God to point him in the direction he needed to go.
Wicha has a long, extended family history of service in the armed forces that includes grandparents, uncles, and cousins. His primary motivation to serve came from his father, Master Sergeant (ret.) Robert M. Wicha, and mother, Chief Master Sergeant (ret.) Connie K. Reed. He says that he’s not embarrassed for others to say, ‘Hey, you’re Connie’s son, or you’re Bob’s son.’ Rather, he’s proud to know that his parents made an impression on people’s lives, and this is what motivates him each day to strive to do the same and hopes to go just one step further.
Wicha says that working at the base in a family atmosphere is one of the things he enjoys most about his job. His favorite things about the job also include the satisfaction of completing a large task, preparing aircraft to deploy and bring returning troops and patients home, and knowing their lives are in his hands. It’s the overall concept of knowing that his work makes the mission possible that appeals to Wicha.
He hopes to pass on the Guard legacy that his parents gave him to his children, but is ok with their choices . . . as long as it includes college! Wicha says he was choosing the wrong path of life, and his choice wasn’t working for him, but when God showed him the Guard path, he recognized this was right path and legacy for him!