CHARLESTON, W.Va. --
One of four sons of a Navy Reserve Chaplain, Air National Guard State Command Chief David W. Stevens knew as a child he would be in the military. He just wasn’t sure which one.
“I had family that served in all the branches and I knew I wanted to do the same. I had a cousin and some other friends join the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and it appealed to me,” Stevens said. “After the Beirut bombing, I knew it was something that I was supposed to do.”
After graduating from Fort Hill High School in Cumberland, Maryland, Stevens joined the USMC in 1984 where he served four years active duty, first with the 7th Engineer Battalion, 1st Force Service Support Group (FSSG) at Camp Pendleton, California. Later, he would serve with the 9th Engineer Battalion, 3rd FSSG in Okinawa, Japan.
In 1988, Stevens left active duty to join the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve where he served with B Company 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division in Frederick, Maryland. During this time, he began to pursue a civilian career in law enforcement, which would have an immense impact on his future. While serving in the Reserves, Stevens deployed to the Persian Gulf with the 2nd Marine Division during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990.
By 1991, Stevens’ enlistment with the Marine Reserves was at a close. He wanted to remain in the service, but his focus was at staying home closer to his family. It is at this point that he made the transition to Air Force blue, joining the West Virginia Air National Guard in 1992 to serve in the 167th Civil Engineering Squadron’s Emergency Management flight.
During this time, Stevens’s civilian Law Enforcement (LE) career was blossoming. He worked in corrections for 3 and a half years, and then after attending the West Virginia State Police Academy Basic Law Enforcement Officers Course, worked for the Martinsburg Police Department as a K9 handler and narcotics officer from 1994 to 2002.
Following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, then Tech. Sgt. Stevens deployed in October of 2001 to Jacobabad, Pakistan, for five months in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. When he returned home to West Virginia in February of 2002, Stevens remained on duty, taking on responsibilities as a full-time technician with the 167th Emergency Management flight.
In the summer of 2003, Stevens once again deployed, this time to Kirkuk, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
By September of 2013, Senior Master Sgt. Stevens had been with the Emergency Management flight for 21 years. As fate would have it however, his former civilian training was about to take center stage once again as he was asked to make positive changes in the 167th Security Forces Squadron (SFS) and took on the role of Operations Superintendent. Stevens continued to serve in this role through his promotion to chief master sergeant in June of 2015 becoming the Security Forces Manager, until his selection by Col. Shaun Perkowski as the 7th Wing Command Chief for the 167th AW in April of 2017. He was later selected by Brig. Gen. Christopher “Mookie” Walker as the 14th West Virginia Air National Guard State Command Chief in February of 2019.
Stevens stepped into the role of State Command Chief with gusto and has been reinforcing positive messages and a leadership ethos since.
“I’m very honored to have been selected for this position,” Stevens said. “Every day is a blessing! I’m surrounded by awesome people. I want to continue to develop our NCO corps and give them every opportunity to succeed.”
Stevens knows first-hand the difficulties in balancing military and civilian life and he has advice for those young Airmen who might be struggling juggling responsibilities.
“Finding balance with two demanding jobs and a family can be stressful. You have to slow down and do what is necessary. You have to be honest with yourself and only take on what you can tackle. Some days you have to embrace the suck and press on!”
Chief Stevens sees great potential in West Virginia and in the Airmen of the West Virginia Air National Guard who serve.
“General Hoyer says he wants to make West Virginia the center of the universe,” Stevens explained. “We all have to believe in that dream! We have to make the best of every opportunity as it presents itself. I want my junior Airmen to be deliberate and focused about their careers and get after it! We have the Airman’s Creed and the Air Force Core Values to guide us, we have AFIs to direct us. Every Airman must stay true to themselves and to our Core Values and set the example for others to follow.”
The newest state command chief continues to reinforce his messages among the Airmen in the state to be true to themselves, exceed the expectations, set good examples and seize opportunities. He is also spending time integrating with senior enlisted leaders from the West Virginia Army National Guard to capitalize on joint training and opportunities for a more cohesive West Virginia National Guard.
Stevens has one final message for all his troops. “I assure you I will do my best for you to you have every opportunity to prove to the State, to the Nation and to the world of who we are, Mountaineers! Be deliberate, in your career, if you have a dream, follow it. Never hold back!”