Des Moines, Iowa --
Father's Day is a time when many reflect on the fathers in their lives who have influenced them and made a difference. Master Sgt. Matthew Hand, 132 Operations Group cyber transport, is a father of two sons, Jacob (11) and Ethan (8), and lives every day providing fatherly guidance, support and care alongside his wife Lisa.
“Ensuring that they have a fun-filled and great childhood is my goal,” said Hand. “The challenge is making sure you’ve got everything squared away and that you’re teaching them everything you possibly can.”
Hand said he loves being a father and seeks to teach his boys life lessons and character development, particularly respect for elders. Much of what he teaches his children comes from the lessons his father passed to him. Hand said it was his father and grandfather that deeply instilled the values that he holds today and that he wouldn’t be the man he is without their guidance.
“His mentoring and his teachings I still use today with my kids,” said Hand. “You always tell your kids, ‘hey this is what my dad taught me,’ and there’s a reason why.”
Hand’s wife Lisa has stood alongside him for nearly 16 years. While at times their parenting style differs, Lisa said they complement each other very well, and that consistency, following through, and having fun are more important than ‘perfect parenting.’
“Matt is encouraging, supportive, and involved with our 2 boys,” said Lisa. “He has taught them many life lessons, good and bad, which have helped shape their character.”
Hand stays very involved with his sons and enjoys doing mechanical activities, riding tractors, 4-wheeling and playing baseball. He also coaches his son’s baseball team, which he said allows him to throw in a fun wrinkle as he switches from parent to coach.
“As a coach I want to treat all the kids the same across the board, so coach, not dad, is my preferred title on the baseball diamond,” said Hand. “I do have the opportunity to get a little tougher with him though since I don’t have to worry about a parent. But we also talk after games about what he did well and what he can improve.”
Hand grew up with a military background as his father was also in the Air Force. His father taught him many lessons, such as respecting elders and the values of working hard and getting the job done right the first time. However, he never pushed Hand into joining the military. The day he did though, Hand could tell his father was extremely proud.
“When I told my parents over the phone that I had joined the military, my dad was quiet at first, but I know he was super excited inside,” said Hand.
Hand joined the 132d Fighter Wing in 1997 and with a long strong mechanical background, it was only natural that he become an F-16 Fighting Falcon crew chief. He said it was the best job he’s ever had. After the mission conversion in 2013, he transitioned to the 132d OG in support of the MQ-9 Reaper mission.
Just like his father before him, Hand said he is not going to push his sons to join the military. However, Lisa said his career and military actions have made quite an impression on their boys.
“The boys look to Matt as their hero and although we have a few years, they want to follow in his footsteps and join the military,” said Lisa.
Regardless of what his sons choose to do when they grow up, Hand said he hopes to teach them lessons that will serve them well wherever their path takes them.
“Integrity is key whether you’re in the military or not,” said Hand. “If I can pass down anything to my sons, it is to be responsible, be safe, be respectful, be kind, and make sure you’re not too hard or too soft.”