MEET OUR VETERANS:
Dan Maucieri U.S. Air Force
Dan Maucieri was born in Chicago, Illinois November 25, 1964. Dan had three brothers, two were twins, Michael and Steven and a brother Mathew. He had three sisters. The sisters were named Becky, Regina, and Sara. Dan is the oldest and the only sibling who was in the military. His dad’s name was Louis Maucieri, and mom Mary. His grandparents are from Italy and his grandfather told the family upon arrival in America, “you will learn English in our family because we are Americans.”
“My dad went to Loyola University in Chicago and became a Chemist,” said Dan from his home in Canton. “In 1965 he was hired by the Aerojet Corporation in Azusa, California. There he worked as a research chemist for the Apollo Space Program,” said Dan.
INFO: Azusa is a city in the San Gabriel Valley, at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles County, California, United States. The A on the San Gabriel Mountains represents the city of Azusa, and can be seen within a 30-mile radius. Azusa is located along historic Route 66, which passes through the city on Foothill Boulevard and Alosta Avenue. (Source: Wikipedia)
“As a research chemist he was studying the breathing systems of the Astronauts. The actual Apollo 13 he was working on was testing all the charcoals and the media to assure the astronauts had good oxygen because they suspected a Teflon seal failure. He was searching for fluoride in the charcoal to see if maybe that had happened,” said Dan.
“When I was growing up my dad had about eight rental properties. Every weekend after delivering newspapers, I would go with my dad to refurbish and did repairs on his rental properties. I learned a lot about home repair and home maintenance by working with him. He was a big mentor for me growing up. I always tried very hard not to let him down. My mom was involved in the school and raising us kids,” said Dan. “Both my parents were very big role models for me and had a servant’s heart,” Dan said proudly.
“We had a really good childhood. In 1969 we moved North to Sacramento. That is where I really grew up, attended school, graduated High School and attended college. I went to Christian Brothers High School and Cosumnes Junior College and studied Marine Biology. It covers everything from a shark to a snail.
I always had a thing for fish and fishing and we had it all there in Southern California. Along with the Marine Biology I was also taking courses in automotive, bowling, racquet ball along with my chemistry and biology courses. I ended up about 20 credits shy of an Associate’s Degree.
In 1982 to around 1984 the economy was very difficult. I was working various jobs but making minimum wages. There were just very few jobs to be had,” said Dan.
JOINING THE AIR FORCE
“My father and I had one of those father-son talks and my dad asked me if I had thought about what I was going to do with my life. I told him I think I will just keep working at the print company, hang out with my buddies, drink beer and raise some hell.” “Well, he said, that’s not much of a career plan. Have you ever considered the military?” said Dan about his father’s advice.
Eventually Dan did take his father’s wise advice and went to the Air Force Recruiters office. The Army had already burned me once. The Navy, if I am going to be on a boat, I want to be fishing. The Marines, God Bless the Marines. I love em, and we need em. But, I can’t buy into the YOU ARE A LEAN, MEAN FIGHTING MACHINE, GO GET EM,” and we both laughed. “I needed something to motivate and challenge me. I NEVER intended to do more than four years in the military. In 1984 I volunteered for the Air Force and signed my contract on October 16th for four years active and four years inactive Reserves,” Dan said smiling.
“I was going to commit as a one-striper because I already had at least 45 credit hours from college. If I had committed for six years active I could have been a two-striper. No, I had other things to do after the Military.
OFF TO BOOT CAMP
“I went to boot camp at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. I was in good shape when I went to Boot. I was playing racquet ball and lifting weights. The tough part was the mental challenge, but I was raised by a very strict father and I had three brothers and three sisters. There wasn’t a damn thing the Air Force could have thrown at me and bothered me in the slightest. By my second day in boot I was appointed the Crew Leader. In the first week, the goal is to break you down. Anyone that is appointed any kind of position is going to be fired, on purpose. Yep, I got fired. Demoted,” laughed Dan.
“Eventually, I did get appointed as a squad leader. One of my guys was screwing up, so I beat his ass. I got fired again. Within three days of graduation, I had to go see the TI and give my salute and he told me my salute sucked. We are washing you back. It was an idle threat. I survived boot camp,” said Dan smiling.
“I had gotten my Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) before I went to Boot Camp. I scored well on my Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test so I was able to select what I wanted to do,” Dan said.
INFO: The ASVAB test is taken by individuals interested in joining the U.S. military. It may be taken by high school students in the 10th, 11th or 12th grade. Or, it may be taken by someone who has earned a GED or higher degree. Along with determining your suitability for enlistment, the score you receive on this test lets officials know what military occupational specialties you may qualify for. SOURCE: asvabmilitarytest.com
“I signed up to be an Aerospace Ground Equipment Technician. Every aircraft has various systems to keep that plane flying. They have electrical systems, environmental (the breathing and cooling), and pneudraulics. To service all those aircraft on the ground we have to have equipment. We have hydraulic test stands, air compressors, generators, cabin pressure systems and other support equipment. My job was also to repair and maintain all that equipment. I selected this as my MOS because it was the most diverse job the Air Force could offer me.
CHANUTE AIR BASE FOR TRAINING
“In April I was sent to Chanute Air Base is located in Champaign, Illinois. This was a six-month training school for my MOS. It was great. I loved it. You only had to be 18 to drink,” said Dan taking a sip on his wine.
“School was so easy for me. I sailed thru it. My next stop was Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. I got there in August and first thing I heard hitting the ground was President Reagan was coming to visit. We had to get all our equipment looking spiffy. We had around 1800 pieces of equipment. Their goal was to paint as much of it as we could. I was assigned to a sanding and paint prep crew for six months. The President made it and he was impressed. We had six months to prepare so we dazzled him.
I wasn’t all that happy about going to Nevada, since it was right next door to my home state of California so I was ready to travel,” said Dan.
“In June of 1987 I met my wife, Lynn. I met her at a party at another Air Force members house,” said Dan smiling and looking over at his wife.
“Dan did meet me at a friend’s party but he forgot to mention it was my Divorce party,” said his wife Lynn laughing. “I was drinking whiskey, playing poker and when he walked in the door, it was love at first site for me.”
“We dated for a couple of months and in August I got orders for Korea. We got married on December 12th. On December 26th, the day after Christmas, I flew out to Suwon, Korea for a year. Was it love at first sight? Hell no. I was 23 years old. I was lean, mean and super successful at my job. Lynn chased me down and got her hooks in me,” he said with confidence.
“I did set my hooks in him, and he did need my help. I am the best damn thing that ever happened to Dan,” Lynn said beaming with pride. “Little did I know that she was the best damn thing I would ever have in my life,” Dan said shaking his head.
“I wished for Korea and I wanted to travel, but now I was a newlywed and I didn’t want to go,” Dan said.
“He went off to Korea and I was home fighting for custody of my kids. I knew zero about the Air Force and I knew nothing about military id cards, hospitals and boom I am pregnant and my husband is gone,” said Lynn.
“A lot of people in the military never do their remote tours,” replied Dan. “I was still thinking I was only going to do four years active so I better go ahead and knock out this remote. And that is what I did. A remote is a station somewhere not stateside where the wife and family are not allowed to go. The good thing about a remote is the next one the military person gets to pick his next location,” said Dan.
“Suwon is located about 35 miles south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). We had A-10’s and the Koreans had F5’s. I loved Korea. I stayed there for a year. The food is phenomenal. There were about sixteen of us in the shop. I was an E-4 and was in the position that if you were a good mechanic you could really shine. The experience was great.
I bought a Korean bicycle and converted it over to a mountain bike. I worked nights so I had a lot of time to see the country on my mountain bike. On the weekends, I would hop on a train here, grab a taxi there, ride my bike over here. I was there in 1988 and the Olympics were in Seoul,” said Dan smiling.
“Being separated was difficult,” said Lynn. “Here I was at home with four kids. But what was he going thru. They don’t’ get to hug their kids, go to ball practice, don’t get off work to take them to the dentist or hug their wife. He had so much guilt because he didn’t get to do what normal dads got to do,” she said.
“I remember riding on a bus and looking out the window I see this huge crowd of Koreans. In the middle of them was Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold is about three feet taller than anyone on that continent. It was hilarious. Security was crazy and there was a lot of posturing between the North, the South and the United States.
The Olympic torch was going to come by our front gate. Our front gate at Suwon Air Base was fully camouflaged. There are about 200 Americans at the gate waiting for this torch to come by and some jackass in the crowd throws a Molotov cocktail. The Humvees with the 30-cal. come up. For some reason the South Koreans love pepper spray. We all got burned from the pepper spray. It was just not as intense over in Korea as it has been in the last 20 years,” recalled Dan.
“I talked to Lynn almost every day on the phone. I have an ammo box in my closet that is full of the letters we sent while I was in Korea,” said the romantic Dan.
“I still have all the letters we wrote to each other stored in that ammo box. In 1987 there were no computers and we made Morale calls once a month that could only last for 15 minutes. It took 30 days to get our mail, that was frustrating,” recalled Lynn.
“When I left the states, I was a single man with no kids. Twelve days later I went to Korea. When I got back she had won custody of her three children and given birth to our daughter, Stephanie while I was away. So, I arrive home married with four children,” said Dan taking another sip of his wine.”
PEASE AIR FORCE BASE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
“A friend from Boston told me this would be a great place to go. It was an outdoorsman Paradise. So off I went, with my wife and four kids. We lived in a 900 square foot cracker box house,” said Dan wondering how he ever lived in that small house.
“I loved New Hampshire,” said Lynn. “I was now pregnant with five girls in this 900 square foot house. We had seven mouths to feed. Dan was a buck Sergeant of three stripes and a colored star. But he didn’t get a raise for that. How did we do that?” asked Lynn.
“Winter in New Hampshire lasts from September to June. I still had on base fishing lakes and skeet shooting, it was fantastic. We bought a Chevy Blazer to drive up there. Within three months the Blazer was repossessed because I couldn’t afford it. I worked nights and walked to work every evening in snowdrifts that were sometimes knee deep. I got a job at Sears to help with my income and Lynn was babysitting at home. She eventually came to work at Sears too,” Dan said.
“I worked at Sears at night,” said Lynn. “He worked Sears at day. But there was always someone home with the kids. Take home pay was $395 every two weeks. We both had to work two jobs just to put food on the table.”
“So, we both had two jobs each,” recalled Dan. “I got there in January 1989 and under the Base Realignment and Closure System (BRAC) in August of 1990 they shut the base down,” Dan said.
MOUNTAIN HOME, IDAHO
After the closure Dan was sent to Mountain Home AFB, in Idaho. When he got there 75% of the base had been deployed to Saudi Arabia.
“Our next favorite base,” recalled Lynn. “The compadre was really good on that base. They had a lot of need for the families and that is when I started getting involved with the military families.
My first goals when we had our last daughter was to immerse myself into military life. I didn’t even know the military would pay for my baby, so I went to a private hospital and had to pay for it. I met a lady who really gave me all the scoop about military life and I began really educating myself.
We didn’t have Key Spouse at the time and I ended up writing a lot of those programs for the military. I also started their squadron programs. It was because of Dan I did that. I starting talking to Commanders and their wives. It snowballed into a serious career of running Key Spouse Programs for the entire Air Force,” Lynn said.
In August of 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait.
DEPLOYED TO TURKEY
“I eventually ended up on another rotation to Incirlik, Turkey with the EF-111’s,” Dan said. “These planes provided radar jamming and were instrumental in the Gulf War. We were deployed in an operation called PROVIDE COMFORT III.”
INFO: Following Desert Storm, the entire Kurdish population of Iraq attempted to flee the country to the north out of fear that Saddam Hussein would attempt to exterminate their entire population. Because of political concerns, Turkish officials refused to allow these desperate people permission to cross the border into Turkey. The result was that hundreds of thousands of Kurds were essentially trapped on barren and rocky hillsides, vulnerable to not only Hussein’s forces, but to the harsh elements as well. Without basic necessities, to include access to water, food and medical supplies, hundreds of Kurds were dying each week. In April of 1991, President George Bush made the decision to provide relief and protection for these beleaguered people. (SOURCE: globalsecurity.org)
“We were there to provide support for the Kurds who were really being beat up by the Iraqis. We were there for about four months. I was now a supervisor and most of the personal under me were the crew members. We got shot at plenty of times,” Dan said shaking his head.
“I had a couple of young crew members I put working on a turbine generator. This generator holds 195 gallons of fuel. It has a fuel transfer system that allows the fuel to move from once cell to another cell. So, they opened all the fuel cells. Turkey is hot country, very hot. They energized the electrical system to see if the transfer solenoids were working properly. They had a spark. That spark ignited all the jet fuel fumes. When I saw it there was a mushroom cloud of explosion and both of these guys are on fire. I jumped in to get them out. I ended up getting burned and passed out because there was no oxygen left. Both guys recovered, but with major burns. I ended up in the hospital. I went thru three fire extinguishers putting out that fire. I was injured from falling down and being oxygen deprived,” Dan recalled. It was hard for him to tell this story.
BACK TO MOUNTAIN HOME AFB/Tech School Instructor
“After Turkey I went back to Mountain Home AFB. It is located north of Boise in the mountains of Idaho. I could have stayed there the rest of my life. I was a Staff Sergeant at the time and my Tech Sergeant came knocking on my door and said, you have an assignment to become a Tech School Instructor. I hated the idea, hated it,” said Dan raising his voice.
“He fought that like a baby,” and Lynn laughs out loudly. “When he went thru Tech School he looked at those instructors as flunkies. You are not out there fighting the battle, you are back here teaching. We talked a lot about that.
I was excited about it. You are going to make Master right after this, I told him. I understood the Air Force more than him,” and Lynn laughed.
“By this time, I had completed my Associates Degree. Instructor’s with Associate Degrees is part of their Accreditation. They shipped me to Sheppard AFB in Texas. I was leaving Mountain Home with all the great fishing and hunting. I did not want to go to tech school and surely did not want to be an instructor. With all my efforts to get out of the assignment I went to be an instructor at Sheppard AFB. An assignment that I absolutely dreaded and hated to do.”
“In Mountain Home I started a program called the Airman’s Attic,” said Lynn. “That is where Airmen E-3 and below and their families can come and get furniture, clothing, dishes, pots, pans and everything they needed. Dan and I sat on a used couch for ten years, so I knew what they were going thru. They still have that program going today. All bases now have Airmen’s Attics.”
SHEPPARD AFB AND INSTRUCTOR
“It ended up being the best assignment of my life,” said Dan. “I was instructed to go there for four long years. I was one of the best mechanics in the Air Force and to send me to be an instructor was a punishment, so I thought. The Air Force was right, I was wrong. I became a very good instructor. It took me six months to get an attitude adjustment that I sorely needed. The Air Force is brilliant in so many ways. They take these guys who are experts in their field, who already have a degree, and make them instructors. Then, they make them competitive with each other. We all have to compete for a better performance report. It made us all better instructors. It forced me to get my Bachelor’s Degree to remain competitive with the others.
Those Tech Schools are a breeding ground for the future leaders in our military. When I left after four years, I thought, holy cow, look what they did to me. I was phenomenal at taking performance tests and teaching. Because each student learns at a different level it forced me to change my curriculum to the individual student. I was forced to be an expert in every aspect of what I was teaching. Several of those instructors I worked with retired as Colonels. I would never be where I am today had the Air Force not made me an instructor. Sheppard AFB was a breeding ground for greatness,” Beamed Dan.
“I quit teaching in 1997 and today twenty-one years later I am still emailing some of my students and instructors. I am very proud of the legacy I have left. I never knew how much of an impact I really had,” said Dan slowly shaking his head.
At this point his wife Lynn started taking classes and setting up groups of spouses throughout the different wings. The commanders embraced the idea and more than welcomed her help. They now had someone that is going to help them and help the troops when they come home from deployments.
I WANT TO BE A HELICOPTOR DOOR GUNNER
“I wanted to try something a little more adventuresome. I wanted to be on the edge of the sword. I wanted to be a helicopter door gunner,” beamed Dan. “That’s a different world Dan,” I said. “I did everything for the assignment, I took all the tests. I was ready to go.”
“I put a big KABALSH on that,” said a determined wife. “It was mandatory cross training for his rank and his career field. Hanging out of a door with a gun getting shot at and getting killed was not my idea of fun. His Commander called me in her office one day. She said, “Lynn I need to talk to you right away.” She said, “YOU have GOT to talk him out of this. He has passed every test.” I said for what and who is he? “Your husband,” and I said WHAT? I said oh no, we are not doing that,” laughed Lynn recalling the story.
“Instead of going to gunner school, I was selected for an assignment to aerospace ground equipment guy at that same location as the helicopter gunner school,” Dan grinned.
“What they selected me for was something very specific. It was a Tanker Airlift Control Element (TALCE). It is a very rare part of our Air Force. They are responsible for creating a base where there is no base. It allows aircraft to fly in and unload whatever we have to do. They sent me to Okinawa, Japan as a TALCE crewmember,” said Dan with a big grin on his face.
“TALCE is the sweetest job that you can ever imagine,” said Lynn. “You are at the top of your career. He was an instructor. He was in every flight in the maintenance group. He worked on multiple aircraft and multiple pieces of equipment. They said, we want this guy. They hand pick you. We finally got to go overseas as a family. We went to Okinawa,” said a smiling Lynn.
“I eventually let go of the chopper door gunner idea and liked this TALCE assignment. We bring air crews in an absolute austere location. Anywhere in the world in remote locations. If I need to send a group of Marines to Pusan, Korea, I send in a TALCE unit. They set up all the ground communication. They can accept aircraft where there is no tower or base.
If there is an airstrip, great, if not, we build one. Or at least the Navy Seabees come in and build it. We had TALCE units in Japan and Germany. There was maybe 40 people in this unit. I was the Technical Sergeant. I had all the mechanical expertise but was also an instructor as well. Eventually they made me the Readiness NCO. My job was to make sure we were ready to go anywhere in the world,” said Dan.
“He is now the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of the unit,” Lynn replied. “He had a great group of men. It was a small unit. Most people don’t even know it exists or what it is. Their motto was “first in, last out.” He was gone 265 days of the year. He could never tell me where he was going. It drove me crazy,” Lynn said shaking her head.
About this time Saddam Hussein was rattling his swords in the Middle East. “Our unit was asked to fly back to the states and pick up a Patriot Missile Battery and take it to Israel. We hopped on a C-130 with eight hours’ notice. We were ready to pick up a Patriot Missile, when we got a call to fly to Dover AFB. We lived on this C-130 for three days. I was so tired I fell asleep with pretzels in my mouth,” laughed Dan.
“One time I got a credit card bill in the mail. It was his military credit card,” Lynn said. “I opened it up and yelled, WHAT ARE THEY DOING? So, I took it up to the first Sergeant and I said, I am NOT paying this. He said, NO mam you are not. The bill was for fuel in the amount of $82,000.”
I thought, “That is a lot of fuel.”
“We set up in so many countries I can’t remember them all. Places like Hanoi, Vietnam…Korea multiple times, Thailand for “COBRA GOLD” at least five times and God knows where else.
INFO: Cobra Gold is an Asia-Pacific military exercise held in Thailand. It is the largest Asia-Pacific military exercise held each year, and is among the largest multinational military exercises in which the United States participates. (SOURCE: Wikipedia.com)
“It was one heck of an adrenalin rush.
Bill Clinton and several dignitaries came to Hanoi when we were there. I got to visit the Hanoi Hilton and listened to stories of people who were there when it happened. That was quite an experience. I even ate Pumpkin soup. That was a staple at the Hanoi Hilton. You can boil a pumpkin and damn near feed 180 people.
Bill Clinton was very charismatic. I don’t subscribe to his politics, but I understand how he can have such an influence on a crowd,” said Dan.
“When he got back he brought me things from the Presidential plane and from the Hanoi Hilton,” said Lynn. “He said that was probably the freakiest experience he ever had going thru at the Hanoi Hilton.
Dan’s unit guarded Air Force One, which any military unit can. He said President Clinton was a pretty cool dude. No, he didn’t like his politics. He liked the way he handled people. He wasn’t standoffish. He was very nice to all the troops,” she said.
“I loved Shepperd AFB as an instructor, but I also loved TALCE. I always looked at what assignment was for the greater good. The greater good was me being an instructor. There I influenced hundreds of people. I understand the impact I had on others, but never the magnitude I might have had. It was very rewarding.
The Air Force consistently gave me opportunities that helped me get promoted. My attitude has always been, you are serving in the military. You are serving your country. If you are not willing to do that, you need to go find a job somewhere else. You can always go work at McDonalds. I like my fries crispy and salty,” laughed Dan.
AVIANO BASE IN ITALY
“I always wanted to go to Italy, and my kids were in High School. I wanted to protect them from the drugs and violence in the schools in America,” said Dan.
“We always sheltered our children,” said a proud mother. “This is a win lose situation for us. They could have an education and a safe environment or an education without a safe environment. There was always a guard at the gate. Now they are leaving home and are not prepared for this totally different environment. I grew up in Chicago and I understood street smart survival. My kids are nice. Now I am on the phone trying to teach them how to be bad girls,” Lynn gets a huge laugh out of that story.
“I was in Ground Support for a short time,” Dan said. “You have to grab opportunities and I had that opportunity in Aviano to be a Production Superintendent. I was a Master Sergeant in Italy.
The Superintendent is the one who coordinates all of the maintenance from the various different pools. I have fabrication, electrical and environmental, egress, aerospace ground equipment, munitions, all of that. I am coordinating all of that with the aircraft repairs. A typical day was 12 to 14 hours. I did this for about three years. I eventually rose to Squadron Assistant Superintendent. Now I was responsible for just about everything under the sun. I was extremely busy. There were many challenges but also a lot of opportunities. Every day was new, with new challenges.”
As Dan continued moving up in his career, his wife Lynn was now taking on more responsibility with her own career. “My program got picked up in Aviano, and now all over Europe,” said Lynn. “I would go to different functions and doing a lot of speaking engagements. I was now working with Generals wives, Wing Commanders wives and Safety wives. I had my own office there and he didn’t.” said Lynn laughing.
KIRTLAND AFB, NEW MEXICO
“I was at Kirtland AFB about one month when I was promoted to Chief Master Sergeant, (E-9). I was running the Aerospace Ground Equipment Flight but soon realized I needed more. So, I was assigned to the Quality Assurance Flight (QA). I did that for about a year. I then negotiated myself a promotion for to Squadron Superintendent of the Maintenance Flight. I was selected. This is the job every maintainer that grew up in a Maintenance Squadron wanted to be. This is where you have the greatest influence over the Colonel who runs that squadron. The only way in the Air Force that you will have the influence to change way things are done, you have to be promoted to the position where YOU decide. The Colonel has the final responsibility, but he does not have near the experience you have. Therefore, he relies on your expertise and judgement. The Squadron Commander relies on the Squadron Chief. Usually, the Squadron Commander is doing well because of his Squadron Chief. I was only in this position for six months,” Dan said.
“The Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Commander wanted me as his Squadron Chief. He stole me and I hated it. I was where I wanted to be and had the greatest influence. I felt like I had abandoned my people under me. I stayed with Aircraft Maintenance for a year. Leadership at Kirtland Air Force Base went downhill fast. I saw the writing on the wall and applied for sixteen different jobs across the Air Force.”
“Commanders kept fighting to get Dan in their squadron,” said Lynn. “He is now working on CV-22’s, the double rotor helicopters. A brand-new program coming to the Air Force. He is now in charge of that. He has the knowledge and now has worked on every aircraft in the Air Force. They wanted him to be a Command Chief. He never wanted to be a yes man or a party planner.”
OKINAWA, JAPAN AND GROUP CHIEF
“One of the guys who was influential in hiring in Okinawa was a person I had worked for in Aviano, Italy.” He said, “This is the guy you want.” Dan was now in a place he loved. He was now a Group Chief. Dan and Lynn were in Okinawa for three years and nine months. All the kids had moved out now and only Lynn followed him to Japan.
“We are now living alone, empty nesters,” said Lynn. “I almost didn’t go. Our girls had four weddings going on. A week before the packers came. He said, I need you. I need you in Okinawa. I can’t do this without you. So, I went. It was not an easy decision. I struggled with it even when I was there. I flew home a lot to be with the kids”
“My level of influence was astronomical,” Dan said. “We had 2,400 people in our maintenance group. I was the senior enlisted person. My Colonel’s knew I had more experience than they could ever hope to get and my whole goal was to insure they shined. We kicked ass on every front imaginable.
The Raytheon Trophy is awarded to the BEST combat aircraft unit in the Air Force. We won it three times in four years,” said Dan smiling.
INFO: The Raytheon Trophy dates to 1953 and is awarded annually to the top air superiority or air defense squadron in the U.S. Air Force. The squadron displayed teamwork and dedication to the mission during a grand total of 190 days in 11 allied countries, and by executed 146 days of deployed flying operations while integrating with 22 allied air forces.
“Our ratings from every inspection were phenomenal. I have never achieved a damn thing in my life. I have been part of teams that have consistently did fantastic. It is all about teamwork. I had some GREAT teams. I was fortunate to have great leaders who showed me how it should be done and I had leaders who showed me NOT how things should be done,” said Dan emphatically.
“What is the key Dan, to making great leaders?” I asked. “Empathy,” he said after a brief pause. “You have to understand where that person is and what that person needs to achieve. If you don’t know your people and you don’t understand what your people are trying to achieve you are lost, you are never going to get there. You have to be part of their lives, not just demanding they need to do this or that. Never focus on yourself, but others in achieving their goals. You will be successful in anything you do.”
“My wife Lynn has always been a very positive motivation in my life. I understood what the military was and what they required. When I made E-7 I felt that was as far as I could go. Lynn always made me think outside the box. It was not always about you getting to the next rank, it was about influencing at a greater level. She always kept me focused on a greater calling. Don’t be happy here. Think about what you could do and what you could accomplish at a greater rank. I couldn’t see a path to reaching E-8 Senior Master Sergeant promotion and never to an E-9. She constantly challenged me.
Find a way, she would say, to get to that. The Air Force also challenged me and always gave me opportunities. I had to be smart enough to realize it and strive to get there. Lynn was a driving factor and understood how I hated how things were done. She knew I could change how things were done. I didn’t know it but she did. Before I knew it, I was the Superintendent of the largest combat coded Air Force unit in the United States Air Force. How in the hell did that happen? But, it is what happened.”
“He always gives me a lot of credit,” Lynn said smiling. “He always says I could not have done it without you. We were a team. Even our house had a big sign that read “Team Maucieri.”
Dan Maucieri served thirty years and five months in the Air Force. He got to a point in his life where he had a difficult time physically to live as a normal human being. “I am doing good and I am very happy with the time I did in the military,” said Dan proudly.
In 2012 Dan spent eight months in Afghanistan. There are several things that happened there that he has difficulty talking about. He was stationed at Kandahar Air Base as a superintendent. Dan received a Bronze Star for his bravery in Afghanistan.
RETIRING FROM USAF
“My fondest memories about the military was aircraft launches where we are launching a fleet. I had some great relationships with co-workers. The family connection you have and the travel going all over the world.
I have three mottos in life. They are loyalty, Integrity and servant leadership,” said Dan.
“As a Chief you can only go 30 years,” Lynn said. “As we got closer to retirement, he knew it was going to be a big deal. He was the Crew Chief of the largest Maintenance Group in the United States Air Force. His parents flew in. There were 650 people in attendance. It was a lot of fun. You know what Phil, in a way, I retired too. We were a team and we were ready to retire.” Yes, Lynn you were a team, a GREAT team at that.
“The first thing I ate and loved was SOS, sausage and gravy on toast,” smiled Dan. “WOW. I had never tried that. It is amazing. Fried Rabbit is another food I love. I ate that in the chow hall at Nellis AFB. It was a normal dish there. Number three is Bulgogi in Korea. With Bulgogi you will taste a little bit of pear, soy, and garlic. You use thin sliced beef. Put it in a lettuce leaf with some rice, half a clove of garlic, maybe some kimchi, maybe some bean base, roll it all up and eat it like a taco,” It is great said Dan. “I hate macaroni salad. Mayonnaise is disgusting,” we both laugh.
MOVING BACK TO VAN ZANDT COUNTY
Dan moved to Canton in 2015. “Our focus was central to the United States and must be one hour from an International Airport. The location must be rural and affordable. It must have good fishing nearby.”
Dan and Lynn hired a realtor in Quinlan, Texas. She sent the couple several pictures of their criteria of what they were looking for. “We looked at countless houses. We drove into Canton and I saw the Veterans Memorial. This is something special, I thought,” Dan said slowly.
“Dan came down to the Memorial and we ordered a brick for him,” said Lynn. “He said I need to be here. This is what God is telling me. I was in here a week and walked into the Visitor’s Center. I can change this, I can change that. Now I am running it,” she laughed. “We help so many people in here. Some just want to come and talk. I never officially retired, but I love helping veterans. It is in my heart. I didn’t know I had that in me until I met Dan,” Lynn said with a big smile on her face.
“We found a house on some acreage and ended up buying in Canton. In May of 2015 I saw a three-plane flyover at the Memorial and it moved me. In July, I met with several people at the Memorial and I knew I needed to volunteer. I spend about 20 hours a week volunteering. I love it because so many in the community have embraced it.
My wife, Lynn works in the Memorial office five days a week. It goes back to my servant heart. I have a huge heart for veterans,” said Dan smiling.
“On my bucket list I want to go to Niagara Falls and I want to go to Times Square and I want to take my dad camping for his 85th birthday,” said Dan taking one more sip of his wine.
“I do have one regret. That is, I was not a good father in my early days. BUT, I am so thankful that the Lord educated me and helped me to be one of the best fathers I can be. I still owe,” he said.
“When people tell me on the streets, thank you for your service. I always tell them, thank you for your support. Those Americans that appreciate what the military does, we really appreciate the hell out of you. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT. We took care of what needed to be done, and you are welcome.”
“He is a great husband,” Lynn said slowly. “Very understanding. Very willing to talk. His kids and grandkids think he walks on water. He is a great guy with a big heart. He has a huge heart.” said his loving wife.
Dan Maucieri, thank you for your service to our country while serving in the United States Air Force. You have had a tremendous influence on a lot of people. You had an exemplary career and WE thank you.
NOTE: Meet other Veterans from Van Zandt County by going to the top of this page and click on MEET OUR VETERANS and click one of the (5) branches of services and the veterans last name first and click to read.
“Every Veteran has a story to tell.” Phil Smith
GOD BLESS OUR VETERANS AND GOD BLESS AMERICA
(ALL photos on this Facebook page are ©2019, Phil Smith and Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial. NO unauthorized use without permission) All Rights Reserved.
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