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Col Kirk: Home is Where the Heart is & Charlotte is My Heart

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Mary McKnight
  • 145th Airlift Wing

The 145th Airlift Wing welcomes back Col. Lisa Kirk, their new vice commander, who assumed command March 1, 2023.

Originally from Western New York, Kirk and her family are no strangers to Charlotte or the North Carolina Air National Guard.

Kirk began her journey from active-duty Air Force to the Vermont Air National Guard while working as a civilian in the medical field. Charlotte, known for having some of the finest medical facilities in the state, led Kirk and her husband to take a chance and transition to the Queen City.

As Kirk worked in nursing for nearly three to four years, she couldn’t let go of her inclination to serve in the armed forces again, thus joining the North Carolina Air National Guard in 1991.

Not being one to shy away from hard work, Kirk obtained her bachelor’s degree in 1998, commissioned as an officer in 2000, and went on to hold space in many assignments within the North Carolina Air National Guard.

“My blood, sweat, and tears are in the Air National Guard,” said Kirk.

Bouncing from assignments in Charlotte to Raleigh, Charlotte again, the District of Columbia, and back to Charlotte spanning over 20 years, ‘blood, sweat, and tears’, is putting it mildly; in authentic Air Force form she beams service before self.

“I am very flexible,” said Kirk. “I can bloom wherever I am planted.”

As she followed her career to the District of Columbia, she was unsure if she would make it back to Charlotte. Unbeknownst to her, that road would return right to where it started.

“I never thought I would leave North Carolina,” said Kirk. “But when the position of the Chief, Force Management Division at the National Guard Bureau was offered to me, I knew it was a position where I could make a positive impact, and I strongly desired to do so. When I chose to accept it, I knew there might not be an opportunity to come home again; but I loved the job, the people, and taking care of the field,” said Kirk.

Just over three years later, her hard work, sacrifices, and exemplary efforts paid off; Kirk was offered a position to come back to Charlotte, but this time as the Vice Commander of the 145th Airlift Wing.

“Being the vice wing [Vice Wing Commander] was my stated end goal from the moment I attained my commission in 2000,” said Kirk.

Twenty-three years later, Kirk reached her Goal.

“In my role as the vice wing commander,” said Kirk. “I will continue to emphasize our Wing priorities of a Ready Force, Relevant and Resilient Airmen, with a focus on resourcefulness and innovation,” she continued. “As a thirty-plus year guardsman with the North Carolina Air National Guard, the Wing can expect me to clearly communicate expectations, maintain an open-door policy with a willingness to listen, advocate, and assist as needed, when requested,” said Kirk.

By reaching her set goal, in the end, all roads led to Charlotte.

“My family is ecstatic to come back home,” said Kirk. “My daughter is in college but will be home this summer. My husband, one of the founding fathers of NODA (North Davidson Art District in Charlotte), has remained very engaged in the local arts community here, so we’re thrilled to be home.”

Mr. Kirk echoes some of the same sentiments.

“Lisa, Elly, and I are thrilled and excited to return to Charlotte,” said Jerry Kirk, Col. Kirk’s husband. “There is a comfort to be found in the familiar. Not only is Charlotte familiar, but after living here for over 30 years, it is home. I am so happy to be back among my peers and friends, like Lisa, doing what I love,” said J. Kirk.

Home sweet home.

“Charlotte is a big city with a small-town feel to it,” said Kirk. “Nothing beats waking up and seeing that ‘Carolina’ blue sky, this is home.”