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Above and Beyond: Mrs. Teresa Owens

  • Published
  • By Tara Simpson
While words like dedication, loyalty, strength, and honor aptly describe important qualities of U.S. Air Force Airmen throughout the world, the same words are also applicable to military spouses. Faced with unique expectations and demands, military families often experience numerous challenges in order to support the active duty family member. Due to the transient nature of military life, an immense source of fortitude for Airmen stems from their family and home. One who has had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know the 36th Wing Commander General Douglas Owens' wife, Mrs. Teresa Owens, can quickly discern her priorities and appreciate her commitment to her family and the Air Force.

"The house does not rest upon the ground, but upon a woman." This Spanish Proverb is easily applicable to most military families. However, such a statement is particularly pertinent in describing the capacity of Mrs. Owens to make a solid and stable home for her family no matter where the Owens' family has been assigned. Having made over twenty household moves to more than ten states and Korea, Mrs. Owens' has had ample opportunity to perfect the moving process. Growing up in an Army family, Mrs. Owens' has always had a first-hand understanding of the nature of military life. It was this awareness that has helped her to be acutely aware of her family's needs and sought to provide a level of normalcy for the Owens' sons. Despite earning her Bachelor's Degree in Chemistry and work on a Master's Degree in Math, Mrs. Owens has found it most important and rewarding to spend time volunteering in her sons' schools. She happily worked in the elementary and middle schools her boys attended. "I had to quit once they reached high school when they decided it was not cool to have me work there," said Mrs. Owens with a grin.

Today both of the Owens' sons are grown. The oldest, a radar navigator, is with the 96th EBS at Barksdale AFB. His unit is currently on rotation here at Andersen. Their youngest son is a civil engineer and hopes to join the USAF this summer. Both sons graduated from the University of Tennessee, located a few hours east of Mrs. Owens' hometown of Clarksville, TN. The other Owens' family member is a Yorkshire terrier who has endured seven PCS moves and "flown more than most people" according to Mrs. Owens. Although caring for their four-legged baby takes less time and energy than was needed for two boys, Mrs. Owens still does not find many moments to call her own. When time does permit, she is glad to have a chance to practice her new hobby acquired while based in Hawaii, playing golf. Other pastimes, including sewing and reading historic and/or mystery novels, have become more of a luxury due to Mrs. Owens' busy schedule. Time is always made available for what she finds most important. She makes clear that family always has and always will come first. Another priority is her commitment to charities. Mrs. Owens has served on Andersen's Officers' Spouses' Club as Honorary President since her arrival to Andersen. AOSC is responsible for contributing over $67,000 a year to local, national, and international charities. The Fisher House is the charity closest to Mrs. Owens' heart. Serving as a source of aid for veterans returning from combat, as well as all Active Duty and their family members who need long term care, the Fisher House provides free or low cost lodging near military medical centers. The closest Fisher House to Andersen is at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii. Over the past several years Mrs. Owens has taken strides to raise awareness of the Fisher House and encourage all to give anything they can to this worthy charity.

Although the wife of a base commander is not technically assigned duties, any military spouse can attest that there are implicit responsibilities that come with the territory. With Andersen's intense Distinguished Visitor schedule, Mrs. Owens has graciously demonstrated her full ability to be flexible and hospitable. With Andersen at the tip of the strategic spear in the Western Pacific, over 1,000 DVs are expected to pass through the base this year alone. For Mrs. Owens' this means being ready to greet and host a variety of important visitors, sometimes at a moment's notice. This responsibility often entails hosting dinners, attending various functions both on and off base, and providing tours for spouses and visiting dignitaries. Although many of the events attended to by the Owens are formal gatherings, one of the most interesting experiences took place at Andersen's terminal. A few months ago the Owens received the former President George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara as they stopped at Andersen to refuel and complete paperwork. Mrs. Owens remarked that it was the most incredible feeling to sit in the DV lounge in Base Operations and discuss her kids with Mrs. Bush, mother-to-mother. The same qualities that Mrs. Owens recognized in the former First Lady could be used to describe her as well: kind, down-to-earth, and genuine.

Many military families can attest that life in the armed services can place special demands on relationships. With few evenings and weekends that the Owens can call their own Mrs. Owens acknowledged, "We rarely get to be Doug and Teresa." Despite a significant imbalance between work and time they can call their own, the Owens pursued with open eyes this opportunity to serve at Andersen. Mrs. Owens noted that their strong compatibility and drive toward mutual goals are hallmark characteristics of the Owens' strong, successful marriage. Such a solid commitment and alliance between the two has consistently contributed to General Owens' achievements in the USAF. It is clear that Mrs. Owens finds a great deal of gratification in her husband's accomplishments. When she speaks of his pride in his job and the work that he does, she beams with equal happiness.

While the duties that entail commanding a base are immense, the reward is just as great. Aside from the continual surprise and amazement with Guam's wildlife, including watching a six-foot monitor cross her back porch, Mrs. Owens finds nothing but positive observations about Andersen and Guam. The overflowing kind hospitality of the people of Guam gives the island a small town atmosphere. Mrs. Owens remarked that she had not experienced so much warmth since living in the South, "the people are all anxious to invite you into their homes, and their lives." This amiability is apparently contagious, as it has spread throughout Andersen AFB. When asked what she wished more people could know about Andersen, Mrs. Owens readily answered, "The quality of the people here is unique and it is our most impressive aspect." She noted that DVs who tour the base are continually struck by the friendliness, happiness, and sincerity of every member of Team Andersen.

With growth in Guam and on Andersen progressing at a rapid rate, so too are Mrs. Owens' expectations. Over the last year there have been many improvements made on Andersen including the clearing of Tarague Beach, making more places available to go and eat on base, and the upcoming opening of the new and improved BX. Mrs. Owens stressed that her hope for both Guam and Andersen is to continually strive for a better quality of life. Through the betterment of the local community on- and off-base, military families assigned to Guam can focus less on being far away from home, and instead simply enjoy being here.