Brownstown native reaches colonel rank in Air Force, becomes associate dean status at AFIT



It’s been a busy year for James R. "Jamie" Fee Jr., but helping shape the future of the United States Air Force does that to a person.

The 1993 Brownstown Central High School grad was promoted to colonel in April and named associate dean of the Graduate School of Engineering and Management at the Air Force Institute of Technology in June.

AFIT is a graduate school for the United States Armed Forces and is a part of the United State Air Force. The school, established in 1919, is located at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.

As the dean’s principal advisor, Fee leads, directs and executes an annual operating budget of $12 million, plus $25 million in sponsor research funds across the graduate school’s six major academic departments encompassing 37 accredited graduate programs and seven research centers, according to AFIT’s website.

"It has been challenging, but really rewarding," Fee said. "There are a lot of decisions that come to your desk."

Fee also recruits, develops, assesses and recognizes the performance of all 285 military and civilian personnel assigned to the school and provides for their health and welfare and, as appropriate, for their families.

"The associate dean is kind of like the deputy under the dean," Fee said. "The key differences are that the dean is typically focused on what we are doing over the next three to five years, and what outreach we want to do and what universities to collaborate with, while in my position I kind of run all the day-to-day operations. From the budgeting to personnel and faculty lines that oversee the different departments."

AFIT isn’t a typical university, as the Air Force has a heavy hand in any decisions.

"In 2017, the Air Force asked the Air Force Institute of Technology if we would look at several different new areas of research and set up different degrees for that," Fee said. "One, it was to keep up with the private sector. Two, to keep up with the national defense. The four different areas they asked us to look at are quantum computing, hypersonic research, artificial intelligence and data analytics."

The student body at AFIT consists primarily of Air Force officers, but is rounded out by members of the other four branches of the armed services.

"It’s a little different than you would think of a civilian university," Fee said. "A civilian university would ask what students are interested in. If they get a lot of enrollments in data analytics, they will move towards it. A civilian university is really driven by tuition. Our students don’t pay tuition, so we are trying to keep in line what the Air Force wants for our national defense strategy." 

Fee holds a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering from Purdue University and master’s and doctoral degrees in nuclear engineering from AFIT. He has Air Force specialty as an intelligence and acquisitions officer and has served at the wing, air staff and Department of Defense levels.

After graduating from Brownstown Central, Fee received his Bachelor of Science from Purdue in 1997. Soon after, Fee entered the Air Force through the ROTC. 

Upon graduation from intelligence training in 1998, he was assigned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida.

As chief of information operations, he was second in command for a team of more than 40 enlisted personnel operating AFTAC’s 24-hour-a-day data collection system from a global network of sensors.

In June 2000, Fee was selected to attend graduate school at AFIT. After graduating in 2002, he was assigned to the 526th ICBM Systems Wing at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. There he was responsible for managing electromagnetic pulse testing for the Minuteman III missiles to ensure the fleet was properly hardened against a nuclear attack on the United States.

After serving as an executive officer for a year, he was selected for special duty assignment as a strategic nuclear analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency in McLean, Virginia.

In 2007, Fee moved to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency at Fort Belvoir in Virginia to work as the program manager of the Advanced Electronics Program. In that role, Fee was responsible for ensuring radiation hardened electronics were available for the Air Force’s missile systems as well as GPS satellites.

He was selected to become an instructor at the Squadron Officer School in June 2009 at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, and in 2010 he was selected to become the pperations officer for the 29th Student Squadron at the Air and Space Basic Course.

In August 2010, he deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, for six months and he served as an intelligence advisor to the Iraqi Air Force under Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Fee began his studies as a student at Air Command and Staff College in Alabama in 2011.

Upon graduation in 2012, he was selected to attend a residence program for doctoral studies. He completed his Ph.D in 2015 and was appointed as an assistant professor of engineering.

"In 2012, I made the decision to come back to AFIT and get a Ph.D. It was kind of a turning point for me," Fee said. "I had always wanted to do it. After I got my masters, I really liked the research and innovation. I wanted to know what the next thing is."

In June 2017, he was selected to become the section commander at AFIT, and served in that position until his current assignment.

Fee said he has always had a passion for teaching, and that he didn’t see his career path going the way it did. He said he plans on teaching an online class in nuclear weapon effects next quarter at AFIT.

"Through my church activities and CPR, I have always liked being in front of a classroom and teaching," he said. "I thought, ‘well, if I get a Ph.D. while in the Air Force, eventually when I retire I could teach as well. I consider myself a lifetime learner. From the curiosity of being an engineer and also just enjoying teaching it."

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Awards” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Col. James R. Fee Jr. has received numerous awards during his career in the United State Air Force. 

  • Air Force Achievement Medal with 3 oak leaf clusters (2016)
  • Lt Col Charles P. Brothers Outstanding Volunteer Service Award (2015)
  • Tau Beta Pi, Engineering Honor Society (2014)
  • Wright Brothers “Officership Award" (2012)
  • Defense Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster (2011)
  • Meritorious Service Medal with 2 oak leaf clusters (2011)
  • National Defense Service Medal with oak leaf cluster (2011)
  • Iraq Campaign Medal (2011)
  • Global War On Terrorism Expeditionary Medal (2011)
  • Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon with gold border (2011)


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