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721st APS spouse wins AF-Level Key Spouse of the Year Award

  • Published
  • By Capt. Emma Quirk
  • 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing

Chelsie Moncecchi won U.S. Air Force Key Spouse of the Year for her service as a 721st Aerial Port Squadron Key Spouse from January to December 2021.

Moncecchi was assigned to the 721st APS on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, for four years and is now assigned to the 603rd Air Operations Center, also on the base.

Moncecchi was born and raised in Sheridan, Wyoming, where she held the title as Miss Sheridan and competed for Miss Wyoming during the Miss American Pageant in 2012. Her hometown is also where she first met her spouse, Tech. Sgt. Daniel Moncecchi, during a recreational co-ed softball game.

The pair eventually married and were stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, where she first became involved in the Key Spouse Program while working as a banker.

“Moving to a completely different state where I knew nobody but my husband, I decided that I wanted to do something to make it better,” she shared. “I’m a firm believer in [the quote] ‘be the change that you want to see,’ so I did that.”

Now she’s a full-time mother to three children, three pets, and is an experienced Key Spouse.

“Key Spouses serve as direct links between commanders and the families of the unit,” said Moncecchi. “That can look like anything really. They can build morale, make sure families are still plugged-in when members are on extended TDYs or deployments, help the Airmen in the dorms…it varies from time to time and unit to unit.”

During her time as a 721st APS Key Spouse, Moncecchi led the unit’s Key Spouse Program and families through unprecedented and historic feats.

When COVID-19 health protection measures forced bases and the host communities to enforce restrictions and quarantines, Key Spouse Programs around the Air Force were faced with new challenges in keeping the community engaged, resilient, and informed.

Moncecchi quickly turned to social media to create safe forums for interaction and community-building through virtual socials and meetings.

One such initiative Moncecchi passionately spearheaded was a “How To” series for volunteers to share self-help skills with Airmen and family members across the unit. Topics could range from cooking to braiding hair.

Moncecchi also established contactless meal trains and grocery deliveries for newcomers and families who were unable to shop for themselves due to quarantine requirements.

“It was my mission to make sure the program didn’t stall,” said Moncecchi. “I wanted to make sure that we were doing everything we could to keep everyone plugged in and make sure they had an outlet.”

During the Afghanistan evacuation, Moncecchi and other 721st APS Key Spouses collected and organized donations for the evacuees and prepared meals for over 800 Joint personnel who were often working 17-hour days, 7 days a week.

“It was a humbling experience. It made me kind of emotional seeing how everybody came together to just do what they could,” Moncecchi reflected. “We made a good impact on the morale. It was great to see that we could do something to help.”

Key Spouses like Moncecchi have a continuous presence within their unit whether operations tempo is high or steady-state. They provide a constant support system for the unit.

As an example, each time the unit deploys a member, Moncecchi assigns a Key Spouse to the family as a liaison between them and the community. The liaison offers frequent check-ins to keep families tied into events and information during the deployment.

Moncecchi is also trained in Sexual Assault Prevention Response and Suicide Prevention, and she assisted in educating fifteen other personnel on warning signs.

“When it comes to those sensitive things that maybe they need to talk about or get help with, and they don’t know who to go to or where to go, we help provide those resources,” Moncecchi said. “We don’t have to report anything that is said, but we can be that shoulder and provide them information on what their options are and where to get the help that they need…It’s probably one of the most important sides of the Key Spouse Program.”

Moncecchi also led the way in bolstering the unit’s happy moments by welcoming twelve newborns with gift baskets and coordinating holiday events.

Moncecchi’s most proud personal accomplishment was a holiday party for the unit’s children themed as a Polar Express Train Ride.

Her vision originated several years prior, but was cancelled twice during the height of the pandemic.

The event finally came to life in 2021 when she brought 150 families together to celebrate the holidays for the first time in two years.

“It was a huge success,” Chelsie shared with a beaming smile. “The kids really needed that fun, family, community feel again. It was really great that everyone came together to make sure that these kids got to finally have some sort of normalcy back in their lives.”

Moncecchi shared that she felt fortunate that the program had “buy-in” from the commanders, the members, and the families which made it possible for the Key Spouses to accomplish so much during her time.

“Chelsie is an outstanding Key Spouse and we are very proud of her selection as the USAF Key Spouse of the year. She’s proof of how impactful a strong Key Spouse Program is on the unit's success,” said Col. Jens Lyndrup, 721st Air Mobility Operations Group commander. “It was a big year for the men, women, and families of the 721 APS and she stepped up to care for the squadron and entire community. Chelsie epitomizes service before self and the Port Dawg spirit.”

The U.S. Air and Space Force Key Spouse Program is an official Unit Family Readiness Program designed to enhance readiness and establish a sense of community. Key Spouses are volunteers appointed by the unit Commander that serve as a conduit of information providing resources to Air and Space Force families. This Commander’s program promotes partnerships with the unit, Key Spouses, Key Spouse Mentors, family members, the Airman & Family Readiness Center and community agencies.