Spouse Spotlight: 726th AMS spouse brings her talents to the table

  • Published
  • By Capt. Emma Quirk
  • 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing
Taryn Coakley, 726th Air Mobility Squadron Key Spouse Mentor, invested much of her time in 2022 to supporting the squadron, connecting her community, and bolstering Air Force Five and Thrive initiatives.

The 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing winner for the 2023 Joan Orr Air Force Spouse of the Year dedicated herself to the squadron’s readiness by taking care of 726th AMS members and their families.

Coakley served as a Key Spouse Mentor and information resource for 95 families as she worked to build a strong community within her tenant unit at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.

She scheduled routine touchpoints with the squadron’s command team and distributed relevant and timely updates through monthly spouse newsletters and social media channels. She developed content plans to promote base resources and share helpful information.

A marketing and communications professional by trade, Coakley used her talents to advise the unit’s Booster Club through an annual agenda resulting in nine events, boosted morale, and over $13,000 raised. She also designed the squadron’s new apparel which enhanced esprit de corps for over 140 members and families also earning an estimated two thousand dollars for the club.

With holiday events and monthly potlucks, Coakley led the community back to a regular rhythm following the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic to restore connectedness.

In addition to squadron morale, Coakley was a buttress for families undergoing stressful changes. She helped to redesign the squadron’s sponsorship program, ensuring more than 30 family members a seamless permanent change of station into the unit.

She also organized programs to ease burden on families in need of support including “baby bundles” for six families who welcomed newborns and three meal trains culminating in 20 meals over five weeks.

Beyond the squadron, Coakley met with the Military and Family Readiness Center and other squadrons’ Key Spouses on Spangdahlem AB, to showcase program successes, open a free flow of information, and share best practices across the base. These relationships were essential to synchronized efforts between the tenant squadron and the host unit, the 52nd Fighter Wing.  

Though stationed on Spangdahlem AB, Coakley’s impact stretches beyond the installation’s gates.

In summer of 2021, Coakley was a part of a small group of spouses to sit down with Sharene Brown, spouse of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. During the discussion, Coakley offered her perspective and ideas to better the Key Spouse Program Air Force (and Space Force) wide.

Coakley recommended a framework of templates and a toolkit to help spouses execute the program at any location.

“The idea is to ensure that Key Spouses, who are unpaid volunteers, don’t have to reinvent the wheel everywhere they go,” Coakley shared.

Coakley later presented her framework to Brown and Mollie Raymond, spouse of the recently retired first Chief of Space Operations. Leveraging her initiative and professional background, Brown asked Coakley to serve as a subject matter expert to her Thrive Team, Air Force Personnel Center, and Department of the Air Force A1 to address challenges, improve the Key Spouse Program, and drive consistency across the DAF. A role she continues to serve.

“Never underestimate your impact to the mission! As a military spouse you can and do make a difference,” said Brown in a social media post highlighting Coakley.

To culminate the year, Coakley published a children’s book which highlights missions and functions of nine USAF squadrons.

The inspiration for her book was her five-year-old son.

Her son, fascinated with the Air Force, understands flying squadrons and the AMS, due to his father’s career.

“There are 15 houses on our square, most of which represent different areas within the Air Force,” she added. “My son is intuitive and was associating each person with their squadron, so he would ask a lot of questions. I learned a lot, too.”

Coakley found a niche yet to be filled.

“My son has a lot of books. I wanted to write one that explained the Air Force in a digestible way for a child.”

Once her son started Kindergarten in the fall, Coakley wrote the book, hired an illustrator, and published before the new year.

“I’ve been attached to the Air Force for a while and yet I am always learning more about it,” Coakley shared. “The main takeaway of the book is that the Air Force needs everyone to make the mission successful.”

While giving countless hours to the squadron, base, and Air Force during 2022, Coakley also continued her career as a marketing and communications consultant, home preschool teacher to her son, mother, and spouse to her husband, Lt. Col. Joshua Coakley, 726th AMS commander.

“Home is where the Air Force sends us – but you should always be proud to showcase who you are and what you bring to the table – whether that table is in the TLF, at a TDY, or in a brand-new location. The more we share as individuals, the stronger and more connected we are as a group.”