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Chief left lasting legacy among High Rollers

Chief Master Sgt. Linda Simons, who lost her battle with cancer in December, left a lasting legacy especially felt as the 152nd Airlift Wing conducts its first-ever Unit Effectiveness Inspection.

Chief Master Sgt. Linda Simons, who lost her battle with cancer in December, left a lasting legacy especially felt as the 152nd Airlift Wing conducts its first-ever Unit Effectiveness Inspection.

RENO -- As the 152nd Airlift Wing undergoes its first-ever unit effectiveness inspection capstone event this week, one of the unit's most well-versed Airman on the new Air Force Inspections Systems process won't be making the Saturday morning drive up National Guard Way this drill.

Chief Master Sgt. Linda Simons, the former 152nd Airlift Wing inspections superintendent, lost her battle with cancer in December. She was 52.
During her 33-year career in the Nevada Air National Guard, Simons worked several jobs, from logistics to transportation to vehicle maintenance to administration to personnel.

In 2011, Simons helped write the Wing's playbook for that year's unit compliance inspection.

She exhibited an understanding of the 152nd Airlift Wing's interworking similarly to a pilot's understanding of a plane's flight controls.

So, when it came time for the 152nd Airlift Wing's transition into AFIS, Simons was an ideal pick to help lead the effort here in Reno as the inspections superintendent.

"She was an early adapter," said Master Sgt. Tracy Woodfolk, who replaced Simons last year as the Wing's inspection superintendent. "She laid the foundation for this program. I had to figure out my own way, but I'm truly grateful for the groundwork because this program was set up for success."

More than 70 Air Mobility Command inspectors are on base this week through Wednesday as part of the capstone event for the Wing's UEI.

The Air Force rolled out the new inspection process in 2013, which differs from the old operational readiness and unit compliance inspections and focuses more on a continuous evaluation, rather than the old, single-snapshot process. The inspection process is scheduled to work on a four-year cycle for National Guard units and two years for active duty.

"She did it all," Chief Master Sgt. Mark Prizina said of Simons. "She had more experience with helping commanders and chiefs and getting everyone to understand where their programs should be. She was fluent in WIT (Wing Inspection Team) and IG (Inspector General) process."

Those who worked with Simons in the final years of her life described her as being "entrenched in the inspection" development and the 152nd's transition into a new era of Air Force inspection.

"She built our initial WIT training, the commander's trainings and was really instrumental on getting that off the ground," Woodfolk said.

But it was more than her understanding of the process, Woodfolk said. Simons was approachable, but maintained a level of austerity.

"Even when she was tough, you really could at least respect the fact that she knew her stuff," Woodfolk said. "She really cared. Some people rip you a new one and you disregard it. Then there are others that do it because they really cared. She cared."

For Simons, the new process was another project she could develop, similar to all the projects she developed at home with her family, said Staci Jean Simons, Linda Simons' daughter.

"She loved projects," Staci Jean Simons said. "My dad used to say that my mom's hand was always the first in the air when something needed to be done, and that is so true."

"That is how I will remember her -- on the ATV at 4 a.m. before the sun would come up or on Christmas morning making sure all the stockings were stuffed and the presents were wrapped before we woke up."

Last December, the 152nd Airlift Wing held a ceremony in Simons' honor. Hundreds attended the event at the fuel cell hangar at the base.

With the inspection process she worked so hard to prepare for looming over the unit, those in attendance took a moment to reflect on a dear friend -- a break from MICT and IGEMs.

"She knew gardening and hunting and all sorts of things," Master Sgt. Paula Macomber said. "What I learned from knowing Linda was that someone might be a hard charger at work -- but you don't really know them until you know them at home. Linda was a great lady and I am glad I got to know her. I'm pretty sure she is looking down on us and smiling because her legacy is being displayed this week and will live on for a long time on this base."