By: Tony McCray
Arnetha Welcome is a proud African-American Pensacola resident who retired from the United States Civil Service after 38 years of service. Welcome served as the Air Force Base Engine Manager for the 1st Special Operations Maintenance Group, 1st Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt Field located just outside of Ft. Walton Beach, Florida.
Welcome is an Army Veteran active in the community and a member of Zion Hope Primitive Baptist Church. When you add her magnetic personality to her personal attributes, there is no wonder that the retirement ceremony and reception was a well-organized and well-attended event with her family, friends and military co-workers involved in its preparation.
Welcome retired as the Engine Manager of over $1,000,000,000 (one billion dollars) of government engines and components of the United States Air Force maintenance operations. She has managed the Engine Management Tracking Board on all engines requiring maintenance to assure accuracy throughout the engine repair cycle a strategic position to hold in peacetime or when our country is at war. In addition to regularly assigned duties, Welcome, also, carried additional duties such as Equal Employment Opportunity Counselor and Mediator for the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field. In 2005, she was appointed by the Wing Commander as the 1st Special Operations Wing Equal Employment Opportunity Manager and Special Emphasis Program Manager. Additionally, she served as the 1st Special Operations Wing’s Black Employment Program Manager.
The military recognized her service with various awards. One specific award garnered her a trip to Berlin, Germany which she truly enjoyed. She also earned eight (8) different citations for Equal Opportunity Training and Mediation in addition to the impact she made with her role as Special Emphasis Program Manager which managed the recruitment of Black, Hispanic, Woman, and Disabled persons to be hired by the Federal Civil Service.
That distinguished service in the military was always accompanied by her civic and community involvement such as her spearheading the Veterans Day Observance at Zion Hope which spotlighted a female Pentagon official, County Commissioner Lumon May’s re-election campaign, student tutoring, and just recently the Magic 106 Food Giveaway Project.
Her formal retirement program was filled with representatives of the military, the civil service, the faith-based community, local media, family, and friends. Dr. Joyce Hopson, the Pensacola NAACP Branch Secretary, presented a Commendation Proclamation from Lumon May and the Escambia County Commissioners, a Certificates of Retirement from Governor Scott, and Congressman Miller. The certificates and proclamations were topped off with a Presidential Certificate of Commendation of 38 years of Federal Civil Service.
Welcome was born and reared in Pensacola, Florida in the late 1950’s as the youngest and the tallest of five children to the late David Jackson and Amanda Jackson. Being the tallest female during grammar school, high school, and college, she was persuaded to play basketball which continued throughout her career. She even played in a scrimmage game of basketball with the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) against the Harlem Globetrotters of which she states, “We had no chance of winning”!!!
She joined the U.S. Army to follow in the footsteps of her father. While stationed in Frankfurt Germany, she met the man of her dreams, James R. Welcome. In 1979, she completed her military tour with an “Honorable Discharge”. Mrs. Welcome is married to James R. Welcome I, retired Transition Assistance Manager, Civil Service, USN. They have 1 son, James R. Welcome II, daughter in law, Dominique Welcome and 2 grandbabies, Samoa J. Welcome and James R. Welcome III.