14th Air Force celebrates life, legacy of front office 'icon'

Tiger-themed mementos which adorned her desk are displayed at a memorial service for Tammy Martin, 14th Air Force Commander’s Secretary, at the base chapel, Feb. 19, 2015.  A 40-year civil servant, “Ms. Tammy,” as she was known, passed away Feb. 12, 2015 following a sudden illness. More than 200 friends, family members and members of her extended Air Force family were on hand to celebrate her life.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson/Released)

Tiger-themed mementos which adorned her desk are displayed at a memorial service for Tammy Martin, 14th Air Force Commander’s Secretary, at the base chapel, Feb. 19, 2015. A 40-year civil servant, “Ms. Tammy,” as she was known, passed away Feb. 12, 2015 following a sudden illness. More than 200 friends, family members and members of her extended Air Force family were on hand to celebrate her life. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jay Raymond, commander, 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic) and Joint Functional Component Command for Space, presents the Outstanding Civilian Career Service Award to Betty Flynn during a memorial service for her daughter, Tammy Martin, Feb. 19, 2015, at the base chapel.  The 14th Air Force Commander’s Secretary since 1998, “Ms. Tammy,” as she was known, was celebrating her 40th year as a civil servant at the time of her passing from a sudden illness, Feb. 12, 2015.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jay Raymond, commander, 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic) and Joint Functional Component Command for Space, presents the Outstanding Civilian Career Service Award to Betty Flynn during a memorial service for her daughter, Tammy Martin, Feb. 19, 2015, at the base chapel. The 14th Air Force Commander’s Secretary since 1998, “Ms. Tammy,” as she was known, was celebrating her 40th year as a civil servant at the time of her passing from a sudden illness, Feb. 12, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson/Released)

Members of 14th Air Force perform a flag-folding ceremony during a memorial service for Tammy Martin, 14th Air Force Commander’s Secretary, at the base chapel, Feb. 19, 2015.  A 40-year civil servant, “Ms. Tammy,” as she was known, passed away Feb. 12, 2015 following a sudden illness. More than 200 friends, family members and members of her extended Air Force family were on hand to celebrate her life.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson/Released)

Members of 14th Air Force perform a flag-folding ceremony during a memorial service for Tammy Martin, 14th Air Force Commander’s Secretary, at the base chapel, Feb. 19, 2015. A 40-year civil servant, “Ms. Tammy,” as she was known, passed away Feb. 12, 2015 following a sudden illness. More than 200 friends, family members and members of her extended Air Force family were on hand to celebrate her life. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Craig A. McBean, Jr., executive assistant to the Command Chief, 14th Air Force presents an American flag to Betty Flynn during a memorial service for her daughter, Tammy Martin, Feb. 19, 2015, at the base chapel.  The 14th Air Force Commander’s Secretary since 1998, “Ms. Tammy,” as she was known, was celebrating her 40th year as a civil servant at the time of her passing from a sudden illness, Feb. 12, 2015.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Craig A. McBean, Jr., executive assistant to the Command Chief, 14th Air Force presents an American flag to Betty Flynn during a memorial service for her daughter, Tammy Martin, Feb. 19, 2015, at the base chapel. The 14th Air Force Commander’s Secretary since 1998, “Ms. Tammy,” as she was known, was celebrating her 40th year as a civil servant at the time of her passing from a sudden illness, Feb. 12, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson/Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- In the 14th Air Force command suite there is a desk which stands out from the others.  It is adorned with tigers; tiger vases, plush toys, pencil holders, a whimsical explosion of color and personality. 

An obvious homage to the lineage of the command, the famed "Flying Tigers" of WWII, the tiger motif is also a fitting representation of the desk's occupant, Tammy Elaine Martin.  "Ms. Tammy", as she was known, passed away Feb. 12 following a sudden illness.

The 14th AF commander's secretary since 1998 and a civil servant of 40 years, Ms. Tammy was a constant presence in the command.  A dedicated Airman who was supportive, fun-loving and, at times, like the tigers she displayed, even ferocious. 

"She could be tough," said Lt. Gen. Jay Raymond, 14th AF and Joint Functional Component for Space Commander, during a memorial service at the base chapel here, Feb. 19.  She was equally capable of doling out a hug or a kick in the pants, he said. 

"But she had a great smile," Raymond said.  "She took care of me, took care of my family.  She was the heart and soul of the front office."

Lt. Col. Andy Wulfestieg, 14th Air Force chief of current operations, worked with Ms. Tammy for more than 12 years.  "The first time was while I was at Schriever Air Force Base, and she was already an icon," he said.   But it wasn't until he moved to the 14th AF front office as the commander's executive officer that he truly grasped how much she meant to the command.

"Her extensive knowledge on procedures and protocol, the list of contacts she maintained off the top of her head for personnel across the AF and DoD, and her willingness to jump in and assist with getting the job done, whatever it took, was simply phenomenal," Wulfestieg said.

"She was an Airman," Raymond said.  "A civilian Airman, she embodied the core values of integrity, service and excellence.  But more than that, she was a member of our 14th Air Force family." 

The family atmosphere was reinforced by the outpouring of love and support during the memorial service which was attended by more than 200 friends, family members and coworkers, past and present.

"Tammy was like family to me," said retired Chief Master Sgt. Jim Mackinley, who served as the 14th AF Command Chief and JFCC Space Senior Enlisted Leader from 2008 to 2011.  "She was there when I lost my dad in 2008, mom in 2011, and the end of my 30 year career in 2011 when I retired.  She was always very subtle about her approach to telling me things will be okay.   I knew she genuinely cared."

Known for her love of McDonald's sweet tea and entertainment news, Ms. Tammy also possessed the secret wisdom that sometimes it just takes a piece of chocolate to make everything better.

"She always turned a blind eye when I was in the candy jar," Raymond said.

"She was a trusted confidant on some of the most sensitive issues handled within the office, a caring and compassionate friend to hundreds of acquaintances, and an incredibly special person," Raymond continued.  "She was the voice of 14th AF for nearly 20 years, and she will be greatly missed."