Les Watkins, a Grand County resident, recently retired from the Colorado Air National Guard after serving for 25 years and nine months. At his retirement ceremony, Watkins was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his efforts in developing a military training project that benefited the disabled children of the Navajo Nation.
Chief Master Sergeant Les Watkins is the Fire Chief for the 240th Civil Engineer Flight Staff Augmentation Team. During his time with the 240 CEF, he deployed to various deployments with 7th Air Force for contingency command post exercises to augment PACAF in South Korea and to Kuwait, Curacao, Germany, and numerous deployments throughout the United States.
Watkins is a graduate of United States Air Force Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Leadership Academy and the Air National Guard Chief Executive Course. He is also a graduate of the Texas A&M Fire School, where he attained certification as a Fire Officer IV, Fire Inspector III, Fire Instructor III, and HazMat Incident Commander.
In 2009, Watkins became involved in the Innovative Readiness Training Program, a Pentagon program through the Office of the Secretary of Defense, designed to serve America’s communities while developing building tradesmen for the Department of Defense. During his five years of service in the IRT Program, Watkins developed a training project that served the disabled children of the Navajo Nation while creating a training opportunity for more than 2,000 airmen, seamen, and soldiers.
Watkins developed a second IRT project for the YMCA of the Rockies at Winter Park that trained over 200 airmen and benefited numerous groups and families that utilize the YMCA.
He is a recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal, and in 2003, received the Colorado Airman of the Year. He is most proud of being awarded the Military’s Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal for volunteer service in Grand County, recognizing service in the East Grand Fire Protection District, Chamber of Commerce, Homebuilder’s Association, and Church of Eternal Hills. In 2006, he was appointed by the honorable Governor Bill Owens to serve a three-year term on the Colorado Workforce Board.
In retirement, Watkins said he looks forward to spending more time with his wife, Julie, as well as growing his construction company into new markets. Avocationally he plans to pursue a long-term interest in church planning and new church development with the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod.