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2018 Annual Guide: Bourne

Virginia Doonan Bourne

Photo by Paige Biviano

She joined Otis in 1988 as an F15 avionics mechanic and went on to become an aircraft maintenance officer. When the 102nd transitioned from a fighter wing to an intelligence wing in 2008, Doonan went back to school and received intelligence training. At the time, there was debate as to whether the 102nd should move to Hanscom Air Force Base, located northwest of Boston.

“The people of the 102nd overwhelmingly wanted to stay here,” Doonan says. “To me it’s significant—we reinvented ourselves from a fighter wing into an intelligence wing that is thriving and does a lot for the United States Air Force and the rest of the military and American people, and we wanted to do that here on Cape Cod. People are vested in this community and on this installation.”

The 22,000-acre installation, once an Army post during WWII, is the largest military installation in the Commonwealth. In addition to active duty Air Force and Coast Guard units, the base is home to over a dozen other tenants, including the Massachusetts National Cemetery and the only state-run fire department in the Commonwealth.

In June of 2016, Doonan became the first female commander of the 102nd Intelligence Wing. “It had to be somebody,” she says with a laugh. “I think it was really a matter of not so much being a woman as just being the right person with the right background. I’m more proud of being one of the only former enlisted people who’s ever been wing commander. It’s about the accomplishments I made to get here and the inspiration to others who may want to lead as officers in the future.”

On her role as commander, she reflects, “You always have challenges with federal budgets, unknowns, different conflicts that can break out, so I try to focus on the larger picture of what are the needs of the organization, and how can we make it better for the future?”

For Doonan, who has lived on the Cape for 28 years and raised her two children here, being commander is more than just a job. “The things that happen on this base affect the towns and my community,” she says. “If I feel like, in my position, I can help solve problems here, that’s important to me.”

Haley Cote is the assistant editor of Cape Cod Life Publications.

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