Thursday, July 10, 2014

TOP STORY>>Q&A: Chief Master Sgt. Rhonda Buening

By Airman 1st Class Scott Poe
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: Well, I was born in Illinois. I moved to several different places. At the age of 6, when my mother passed away, I actually was adopted by her parents. So I moved to Osage, Wyoming, and I was raised by my grandparents. Then at the age of 17, I left that household into the big world of banking.

Q: When and why did you join the Air Force?

A: In 1988 I lived in a very small town with no room for upward job mobility, so with a little nudge from a couple relatives that served in the Navy, I joined the Air Force. I signed up to work somewhere in the communications field, but I had to take some additional tests before being assigned to the communications-computer systems operations specialty. Basically, I did system administration on servers that support various projects throughout the Air Force, to include electronic mail.

Q: What are some major challenges you’ve faced during your career, and how did you overcome those challenges?

A: I’ll share a couple challenges that I’ve experienced. Early in my career I became a single parent and had to negotiate child care, while working some unique duty hours. The only way to overcome issues with finding child care from 3:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each day was with the support of my close friends. Another challenge I’ve faced in the military is sexual harassment, to include an incident since I’ve put on the rank of chief master sergeant. It is so disappointing to still have offenders in the workplace who are only interested in their self-fulfillment, and are not respectful of others. This is a challenge that I’m still trying to help address.

Q: What drives you every day?

A: The people here at Little Rock AFB and at our units in Mississippi, Colorado and Wyoming drive me to be the best I can in my current role. I am here to serve them and help ensure the goals and objectives of this wing are met. It always gives me pleasure to be of assistance to the Airmen making our C-130 mission happen and to watch people continue to succeed in their personal and professional goals.

Q: What is your favorite part so far about being the 19th Airlift Wing command chief at Little Rock Air Force Base? What are you looking forward to as the 19th Airlift Wing command chief?

A: My favorite part is also being able to continue to serve in the Air Force. You don’t always know when your career will potentially end with the military. Also my favorite part of being the command chief at Little Rock AFB is the people. Each person I have the privilege of meeting is contributing to the C-130 mission, and they are all so proud of what they do. I look forward to learning more about the base and surrounding area, and being able to help propel Airmen forward in their careers.

Q: What are some ways that you handle all of the responsibilities that come with being a command chief?

A: It is fairly easy to handle my responsibilities as the command chief for the 19th Airlift Wing, because my job is well defined by Air Force Instruction and Col. Rhatigan has also shared his expectations. Now, it’s all about communication and empowering Airmen.

I really just like watching people succeed, so if there’s anything that I can do to help move them forward, and propel them forward in their career or their personal lives, that’s really what makes me happy the most about having this position as command chief.

If it wasn’t for having the position and role that I have today, I don’t know what I would spend all my time doing. I love being a command chief. I love making a difference in people’s lives, and I love being able to be part of whatever personal or professional goals that they have.

Q: What are you priorities as 19th Airlift Wing command chief?

A: My priorities are exactly the same as Col. Rhatigan’s: Mission, Airmen, Partners.

Q: What was your favorite/most interesting assignment?
A: One of my favorite assignments was to Edwards Air Force Base, California, for a special duty job. Our team was responsible for recording all of the B-2 bomber testing so the engineers could evaluate various facets of the aircraft, such as fuel consumption, the accuracy of bomb drops, and how well it could avoid radar detection. My favorite part of the assignment was going to Eglin AFB, Florida, to a climatic lab to test a B-2s responsiveness during extreme heat or cold conditions, and I got a chance to sit in the cockpit.

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