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419th Command Chief returns years of military support from niece as she competes on American Idol

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jack Rodgers
  • 419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Kaibrienne Heather Richins will be competing for a final spot on American Idol this week. Does that name sound familiar?

Kaibrienne, 20, who goes by KB, is the niece of Chief Master Sgt. Heather Richins, who will be passing on her responsibilities as Command Chief for the 419th Fighter Wing in April.

“She's been very vulnerable, and courageous,” said Richins, who has served with the 419th for 29 years. “I'm so proud of her for being willing to show that vulnerability to America, while also pursuing her dream.”

KB was diagnosed with an immune disorder that attacks the thyroid at a young age causing significant health challenges.

“And because she puts it out there it's easy to connect with her,” said Richins. “I think she's been touching a lot of people through her music and her story.”

KB, who has earned a substantial following on social media, caught the attention of an American Idol casting producer last year. (See her perform here:

“We have a very special relationship because I don't have any of my own kids,” said Richins. “My brother named her after me, so she's my special girl.”

April is the month of Military Child, which recognizes those children who serve in their own way alongside their parents.

“She's part of our Air Force family in a special, unique way,” Richins said.

KB has supported Richins throughout her career attending events such as airshows, the Air Force Ball, and a Thunderbirds reception. Richins will be traveling to Los Angeles to support KB as the competition continues