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Meet Col. Nicole Lucas

Garrison leader feels at ‘home’ in Pacific Northwest

Col. Nicole Lucas became JBLM garrison commander after taking the reins from Col. Daniel Morgan during a ceremony July 28. JBLM PAO photo

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Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s new garrison commander feels much like many who’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest during their formative years.

Colonel Nicole Lucas said she’s glad to come home to the area after a lengthy separation — during which she grew up, finished her education, entered the military, married and began raising a family while serving.

“I have great memories of the Northwest; it was my very favorite assignment,” Lucas said. “Seattle is such a nice place.”

The assignment she referred to was her dad’s position as commander of the Seattle District, Army Corps of Engineers. When Lucas was a young teen, the family lived in the iconic Cavanaugh House, the engineer’s house on the Ballard Locks in Seattle. She recalls the years she lived in Seattle fondly.

“I could get anywhere on public transportation,” she said. “It was a great place to live.”

Lucas has served in numerous positions since 1995 when she was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Ordnance Corps from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Most recently, she served at the Pentagon as strategy and readiness division chief for the Joint Staff J4. Returning to the Pacific Northwest as JBLM garrison commander is a challenge she’s up to, Lucas said.

“I’ve got some learning to do, but (the new role at JBLM) will be about the things I’ve done before,” she said, listing her fundamentals of leadership mantra of courage, competence, compassion, character and teamwork.

Listening to others and understanding also will “put me in good stead,” Lucas said.

She doesn’t yet have a specific vision for JBLM under her leadership, but plans to take time to assess and get an understanding of the pace of things so she can have a long term vision of what’s best for JBLM, she said. Lucas is looking forward to working with Air Force and Army service members and families, as well as the community, she said.

Lucas said her roles as a wife and mom, as well as her career are important to her and in some ways are similar.

“So much of what we do is in support of each other,” she said. “I was married and in the Army 10 years before we had our first child. Now, I had two jobs and I wanted to be the best I could at each of them. My husband reminds me that balance is so important.”

Lucas is the middle of five children born to Roger and Anne Yankoupe. Although the children grew up as “Army brats,” Lucas is the only child who went on to have a military career.

The colonel credits her four siblings, parents and in-laws with her ability to succeed.

Family members took care of her young children when she and husband, Col. Lang Lucas, deputy chief of staff, I Corps, deployed to Iraq in 2007. The couple was deployed for nearly a year, which was a difficult time to be gone, she said. Their second son, Nate, was only 1 when they deployed.

The couple has three children: Gabriel, 12; Nathaniel, 10; and Joshua, 8. Lucas said it was tough coming home that first time when her children didn’t recognize their mom and dad.

“That gave me a real appreciation for what other service members go through,” she said.

Her family picked up on the children’s response and remedied it before the next time the couple returned from a deployment by showing the children pictures of their parents daily, she said.

“The next time we came home, the kids ran straight to us on the field to greet us,” she said. “It was wonderful.”

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