Maj Donna Phillips’ Head Turns Towards Contracting

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Ed Staton
  • 172d Airlift Wing

Although she has built quite a reputation for excellence in the Contracting career field, Major Donna Phillips, Contracting Officer for the 172nd Airlift Wing, has a career with an interesting and unique component to it.  The Wing’s contracting officer has the distinction of serving both in the enlisted and the officer corps and also for both the Mississippi Army and Air National Guard.


Phillips’ military career initially powered up in 1994 when she signed up with the Mississippi Army National Guard to be a hydraulic mechanic working on UH-1 Huey Helicopters.  However, the Sebastopol, Miss. native, quickly traded in her Army green uniform in 1996 when she transitioned to working on Lockheed C-141 Starlifter hydraulics for the 172nd Airlift Wing and became a proud wearer of the blue uniform. 


Stints working full-time with the wing’s clinic and services sections helped Phillips career to progress, but it was when she gained her first contracting experience that she realized she had found her military purpose.


“I like construction,” Phillips said. “I like negotiating with vendors for the services and supplies that we need and everything that goes along with being a Contracting Officer.”


Phillips gained her initial contracting experience with the 172nd AW.  But, when an opportunity to rejoin the Mississippi Army Guard in 2001 was realized, without hesitation she accepted a direct commission and a position with the United States Property and Fiscal Office, commonly referred to as the “PFO”.


Additional career twists and turns evolved for Phillips when she stepped away from the military in 2009.  The choice enabled her to spend more time with her daughter and to gain civilian experience in contracting with the National Guard Bureau. 


“I never get bored because there’s always something new and something different,” Phillips said.  “Being in those different positions has allowed me to have quite a variety of assignments while still staying close to contracting.”


Phillips rejoined the military in 2013 and completed the enlisted/officer, green/blue shuffle when she accepted a position with the Mississippi Air National Guard's 286th Air Operations Group as a contracting officer.  A return to the 172nd AW took place when Phillips accepted a full-time position as the wing’s contracting officer in 2018; this in turn gave her more time at home to spend with family.


Phillips spends much of her off duty time watching her daughter perform in theater and in her school’s show choir team.  This takes a bit of time, as everything revolving around our families tends to.  Even though much of her military day in an analytical fashion by crunching numbers, her civilian tastes are more on the creative side.  


To date, Maj Phillips has spent many years enjoying both the Army and Air National Guard.  With the uniqueness of her experiences, it is clear that Maj Phillips is “Purple” through and through!