Love for Eielson, Alaska keeps barber cutting at same chair

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. William Farrow
  • 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
With a warm smile and a passion for her art, Jackie Hadlock welcomes customers to her barber chair with the confidence and experience approximately 10,000 haircuts a year has given her.

In December, she went over 20 years cutting hair at the Eielson Base Exchange barber shop.

Working five days a week, Ms. Hadlock averages about 40 customers a day --most military members, requiring a standard military haircut.

"It's an art--it's my passion," she exclaims as she tapers the hair near the neck of a patron.

She said she believes military cuts are more of an art than regular cuts at America's typical mall salons due to having to sculpt the hair just right for the customer.

"Military customers know what they want and they want it a certain way, every time," Ms. Hadlock said. "They have come to me to provide a service and it's my job to provide it to the best of my ability. I owe it to my customers."

Although customers know what style they desire, she said military styles have changed over the last 20 years.

This 1979 Aberdeen N.D. beauty school attendee married James, an Air Force weapons troop, soon after graduation and moved with her husband to Europe.

It was there that she got her first job cutting military hair at the exchange at Camp New Amsterdam, the Air Force's corner of Royal Netherlands Air Force's Soesterberg Air Base.

"It was the early 80s and everyone wanted their hair to look long but they had to be in regulation," she explained. "It could be quite a challenge making the younger customers happy back then."

Because of James' military career, the Hadlocks were prepared for moves and career changes and understood there would be periods of time spent away from each other.

That time came when James took a remote tour in 1985.

Jackie returned with her two children to North Dakota to wait out for her husband's assignment and after 12 months of enduring the family "split-up" the Hadlocks had orders to Eielson.

She resumed her cutting hair career at the exchange in 1986. She also began enjoying the Alaskan lifestyle and soon began considering herself Alaskan. She's been calling Alaska "home" ever since.

"We liked it here, and we wanted to stay, for the rest of our lives" she said.

But the Air Force needed James elsewhere; he had to take other assignments while the Hadlock family chose to stay in Alaska. Jackie kept the children with her here and, once again, waited out the separations.

As the children grew older, the separations became easier for the Hadlocks.
They understood that each family member was making a sacrifice, but in the end, it was what James and Jackie were willing to do to keep the family in Alaska.

"It was a decision we made together. It wasn't an easy choice but I told him the separations would make me more independent if I stayed behind, so we agreed and I stayed that's what we did," she said.

Eventually, the children grew up, and James retired from the Air Force to join Jackie fulltime. These days they're enjoying the fruits of their labor and spend a lot of time traveling.

Whether combing the beaches of Hawaii, exploring the Australian Outback or shopping in Singapore, their life together in Alaska keeps them happiest.

"We just bought our "Alaskan Dream" a 1,000-square-foot log cabin retreat where we can go for the weekend and get away from it all," Jackie said proudly. "We invite friends up for a relaxing weekend and enjoy the nature and the solitude."

As for her work, she said she'll keep on working as a recognizable fixture at Eielson.

"Eielson is a good place to work-- I never run short of business-- and I work with good people," she said. "I'll cut hair here until the Good Lord tells me I can't do it anymore."