JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, D.C. Throughout his more than 23 years in Air Force blues, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Vice- Commander and Air Force Element Commander Col. Roy-Alan Agustin admits he’s never had a bad assignment. The people he’s met and worked with over the years, including those here at JBAB, have a lot to do with that. He’s also grateful to the Air Force for allowing him to reach personal milestones that have gone above and beyond his childhood dreams.
Agustin has served at JBAB, which is his fourth command, for a little more than two years. He first came aboard the base as the 11th Mission Support Group Commander and the 11th Wing Vice Commander. A third of his military career so far has been spent in the Washington, D.C. area, which he and his family have really come to appreciate. He previously worked at the Pentagon and attended the National War College at nearby Fort McNair.
The colonel is set to leave JBAB next week for the Air Force Reserve Command Headquarters in Georgia this September. In that assignment, he will serve as deputy director for installation support and the civil engineer. Two important roles and another milestone for an officer with very humble beginnings.
“My grandparents emigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines in 1917. I was introduced to the military by my granduncle, who had served in the Guadalcanal campaign and later became a postman,” Agustin said. “He would say it’s important to give back to the U.S. because it allowed our family opportunities we otherwise wouldn’t have. He was absolutely right and I’ve never forgotten that.”
Despite being from Hawaii, he wasn’t keen on sea duty, so the Navy and Coast Guard were out. Agustin was an Army JROTC brigade commander while in high school, but it was the Air Force that won him over.
“I liked its overall mission, its focus on engineering and technology, quality of life and how it took care of families,” Agustin said. “The Air Force recruits members, but retains the family. I really like that philosophy and knew that was for me.”
After graduating college in 1988, Agustin got his first active-duty assignment at Bergstrom Air Force Base, which is now the main airport, in Austin, Texas. He spent four years there as a civil engineer in various positions. He then moved on to the Air Force Institute of Technology in Ohio, where he would become a distinguished graduate and achieve his first of three master’s degrees in environmental engineering and management.
Agustin said he is incredibly grateful for the wealth of opportunities the Air Force has provided him throughout his career, including the opportunity to travel around the world a dream of his as far back as he can recall. To date, his Air Force travels have brought him to 21 countries and 48 U.S. states.
“I have friends back home who never left Hawaii or have even come close to the kinds of opportunities I’ve been fortunate enough to experience,” Agustin said. “Being able to travel around the world has also allowed me to meet a multitude of high-caliber and diverse people. That’s equally gratifying. My education and the experiences I’ve been exposed to are because of the Air Force.”
It’s a much different Air Force now than when Agustin joined. When he was first commissioned, the Air Force had an active duty strength of about 600,000 - nearly twice the number it is today. But with that reduction, he notes the talent and quality of Airmen has only increased along with the Air Force mission.
In the case of JBAB, Agustin is proud of what’s been accomplished in just a few short years. Becoming a joint base and the undertaking involved with its many changes he says was no small task. However, in balancing the needs of its 48 mission partners along with the needs of the surrounding community, he believes JBAB has positioned itself for future success.
When he first took command, Agustin said the film 300 had just been released. At the ceremony standing up JBAB, he compared his unit’s 300 Airmen to the Spartans in the movie who held the line at Thermopylae to buy the Greek alliance time to rally and defeat the Persians. Throughout his tenure, and especially with the impending military-to-civilian conversion of his 300 Airmen, he encouraged JBAB’s remaining Airmen, Sailors and civilian employees to not just hold the line and accept status quo, but to rather advance the line and improve themselves and the installation.
“Tactical actions can have strategic effects. When foreign visitors leave here impressed with our quality of facilities, services and professionalism, that’s a reflection on not just this base, but our country,” Agustin said. “Besides saying thank you to all of our JBAB team for their efforts these two-plus years, I also challenge them to define their own legacy by making a positive difference wherever they can. I have no doubt that JBAB is in very capable hands.”