Editor’s note: Cole Headlee is an Urbana native and 2018 UHS graduate. He joined the Air Force shortly after graduation.
SCHRIEVER SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo. — Having served in the U.S. Air Force for three years, and stationed at Schriever Space Force Base for the last eight months, Senior Airman Cole Headlee — 50th Security Forces Squadron, Base Defense Operations Center controller — wakes up long before sunrise for the safety, security and protection of personnel at Schriever SFB.
USAF Security Forces are integral to the mission of the USAF and U.S. Space Force.
“My daily duties are to secure and protect personnel and resources assigned to Schriever, and with that, ensuring Space Force mission success on a daily basis — while also policing the populous for the safety of all,” said Headlee.
Headlee is from Urbana and the son of a financial advisor and a paraprofessional educator. Before joining the Air Force, Headlee thought he would be a financial advisor, like his father.
“Honestly, I wanted to take over his business and his management spot,” said Headlee. However, the Defender ultimately decided upon the Air Force and Security Forces.
“I was thinking more about something that would benefit me, and develop me — and also, I knew would get a lot of cool experiences along with the benefits,” said Headlee. “To this day, I still believe the Air Force is one of the best options anybody can do, honestly. The Air Force has so much to offer. Take it from me: At 19 years old, I had been to England, Cypress, France, Poland, Germany — traveling the world. Also, I’m a person who best functions with structure. When I have set tasks given to me by leadership, or by my supervisor, that I have to accomplish — I have greater success.”
Helping him make the decision to join the Air Force were students and friends he went to high school with in Ohio.
“There were four of us, one from my class and two from the class who graduated before me,” said Headlee. “I did a lot of research on my own, but I had others who had already joined who I could ask questions about their initial experience. And here I am, and I absolutely love it — and so does my wife.”
Headlee’s wife is also in Security Forces, currently stationed at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. Kunsan AB is one of two major USAF installations operated by the U.S. Forces Korea.
When asked how the Air Force has changed him for the better, the Schriever SFB Defender had a lot to say.
“The military has instilled a ton of discipline in me,” said Headlee. “When I was younger, I wasn’t the most obedient kid. I remember having a sit-down conversation with my parents about what I want do with my life and what I want to accomplish in my twenties and into my later years, and — believe it or not — I said I would like to get some discipline. I’ve learned a lot about myself and how I work.”
Senior Airman Evelyn Gorder, 50th Security Forces Squadron, BDOC controller — is Headlee’s supervisor, and had this to say about him as an Airman and person:
“Senior Airman Headlee is an extremely important part of our mission as a BDOC controller,” said Gorder. “His responsibility is command and control over all posts and patrols that protect our Space Force assets here at Schriever. With his knowledge, attention to detail and incredible work ethic, Senior Airman Headlee is more than qualified to perform such an important duty for the U.S. Space Force. I appreciate all the work he does — not only as an Airman, but as a person. He truly is a wingman. Everyone knows that if they need anything work-related or outside of work, Headlee is the one to call. He has always shown a passion for helping others and truly cares about the people around him.”
The work Headlee and fellow Defenders from the 50th SFS perform is vital to the garrison, USAF and USSF missions. In order to maintain motivation and resilience, the Defender has a phrase he reminds himself of daily.
“A quote that inspires me is simple yet meaningful: ‘Win the day,’” said Headlee.
“This quote was, and still is, said by my father who is my biggest role model and motivator. For me, ‘win the day’ means the small tasks you complete to make your day successful or the kind word that made someone smile, the positive motivation you give to others or the positive mindset you place within yourself, the actions you take to pull yourself out of a negative mindset or how you respond to various situations. ‘Win the day’ means taking the actions that I need to take to be the best Airman that I can be — every day.”
Additionally, the Schriever SFB Defender believes in perseverance.
“Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it, honestly,” said Headlee. “Anyone can do anything that they want, as long as they have the motivation and dedication.”