Q: How long have you been in the military?
A: I entered the Air Force Academy in June of 1988. It’s been a little while here. It has been 26 years and counting since I raised my right hand and took the oath.
Q: If you could change careers and do anything else within the Air Force, what would you do?
A: There’s a multitude of different functions in our Air Force that I think are really cool – cyberspace, a lot of the special operations (missions), and the amazing things that we’re doing in the intelligence world. To be honest, I don’t think I want to trade. I think I’ve got the best job in the Air Force, right here at the 314th.
Q: What is one of the biggest goals that you have for the 314th Airlift Wing during your tenure here?
A: The formal training unit here at the 314th Airlift Wing is known as the Center of Excellence.
Excellence is an Air Force core value and I love that for combat airlift, C-130 tactical airlift excellence starts right here. I think I want to continue to strengthen the reputation we have as the Center of Excellence.
Q: Why is our ability to produce combat airlift power important to you?
A: It’s important to me because it’s important to our nation, our allies and our partners around the globe. Wherever we have global vigilance, reach and power, wherever our forces go, wherever the Air Force goes, wherever the President of the United States chooses to exercise American power, you can almost bet there’s a good chance that C-130 combat airlift will be part of the solution.
Q: What are some of your goals or things you would like to see in the next 5 years?
A: I think it’s really important right now that we stay grounded in our core mission. There’s a lot of uncertainty. There are dwindling budgets and our Airmen are living through another round of force shaping and force management, so people are wondering what’s going to happen in their lives. The effects of those resource constraints and the force management actions that our Air Force is taking are going to leave us a smaller but still effective force. So we’re going to have to find a way that will help people who are going to be departing our Air Force and (then) transition elegantly. They’ve made enormous contributions, but the fact of the matter is that we’re no longer in the position to be able to afford the force that we desire. We’re still going to be a combat effective force. But for everybody who remains, each member and each Airman, no matter what their particular AFSC is or what their duty is here at Little Rock AFB, they become even more important on a smaller team.
Q: What was it like when you were notified that you were coming back to the Rock?
A: It was really exciting. I spent a brief period here. The majority of my operational flying career was flying C-141s. Just after 9/11, (I transitioned) from the C-141 to the C-130. (My family and I) spent a short time period at The Rock, but we recall it very fondly. My wife and I had our first daughter just prior to moving here. She was just short of a year old and was here from ages 1 - 3. It was kind of like coming home and was very nice.
Q: Is there something about you personally that you would like the base to know? What are some hobbies or interests that you have?
A: It’s interesting when people ask me what my hobbies are. I inwardly laugh. My wife and I have been blessed with six children, so we spend a lot of time focusing on family. My faith, my family and freedom are very important to me. I see a lot of those things are aligned with my services to the nation and to the Air Force. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to be able to align my professional life and my personal life in that way. I take this business of supporting our Airmen and getting the mission done very seriously. But I don’t take myself too seriously and my kids are a constant reminder to not take myself too seriously. The kids always have something going on.
Q: Do you think that being a dad has helped you become a better leader?
A: Yes, in short, being a parent forces you to mature in ways that I don’t know you would voluntary do as a single person. So, the responsibility of taking care of children, the time management involved in making sure you’re running the family battle rhythm to get the kids to different activities all helps. Through their school work, through their commitments, through their activities in the community, I think it forces you to prioritize and really gets you outside of your personal goals.
You really do have to focus on serving others, so being a parent kind of expands that window for you in positive ways.
Q: In your Air Force career, what have you seen change the most?
A: The change of bringing the C-130J Super Hercules into the fleet gave us a chance to look at how we conducted training. It gives us an opportunity to re-look at doctrine of what has been written, and we can approach it with a fresh perspective now. We can approach training in new and different ways and take advantage of new technology and the combat experience of our crew force. When I showed up in 2001, there weren’t that many Airmen (who had achieved) seven or more air medals or multiple combat deployments and hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of combat time. That’s the force we have today. The challenge for our leadership is finding ways to capitalize on all of that experience, on all of that skill and motivation to make sure that we continue to strengthen our reputation as the Center of Excellence here.
Q: What is your favorite part about being a leader in the U.S. Air Force, being a commander?
A: I already mentioned that I do take it seriously. This responsibility is a great privilege, but leadership is a gift, and it’s given to those who follow. Every single day I’m working hard to make sure I’m worthy of that gift and the trust that the Airmen place in me. We’re constantly fighting to set direction. We’re moving through a lot of uncertainty, as we already mentioned. So, we need to remove some of those obstacles and some of the distractions and make sure that our Airmen can stay firmly focused on training the world’s best C-130 combat airlifters.
Q: What do you want Airmen to remember or keep in mind, day in and day out, regardless of what they do?
A: I have three things. My challenge to Airmen is to lead with courage and compassion. We mention that there are a lot of challenges out there, but we have to lead with confidence and boldness. It’s the times that we’re living in right now that really demand it. As we accomplish the mission, we can never forget that it’s the Airmen that make the mission happen. We need to be compassionate; we need to understand where people are, the challenges that they’re facing, and ensure we’re aligning our resources to the mission in the most appropriate way.
Second, strengthen the team. There are many things you can accomplish in this world on your own. But if you want to accomplish big things that are going to change the world, you need to be able to work well with the team. So, be focused on working well with others.
And lastly, development. Both personally and professionally. We’ve talked about the fact that we’re going to be a smaller Air Force going forward. We’ve talked about the fact that a smaller force increases the importance of each Airman. So we’ve all got a responsibility to expand our toolkit; whether that’s in your parenting skills, how you’re handling your finances, all those things that underpin our resilience as Airmen. In regards to Comprehensive Airmen Fitness, you ought to have goals, physical goals, mental goals, social goals and spiritual goals, that make us resilient and combat effective for our Air Force going forward in the future. I think that would be my three points to challenge Airmen to do.