Thoughts on service

The 932nd Airlift Wing said farewell recently to Lt. Col. Richard Feldmeier as he entered retirement.  Colonel Feldmeier credits others for many of his accomplishments.  “I had great people like Colonel Wade and Col. Roger Wujek, Chief  Master Sergeants Kris McManus and Ron May, and Master Sgt. Brian Eckhardt to guide and teach me.  Chief May taught me how to be leader. Chief McManus taught me more than I can say, but thank you will never be enough. Colonel Wade guided my career. Colonel Wujek and Colonel Fletcher gave me a chance to put it all together. What better a role model than Colonel Wujek? He is the leader you personally couldn’t bear to disappoint, need I say more?”  Colonel Feldmeier said that as an observer in an Operational Readiness Exercise meeting, he told the group, after a lengthy discussion, to give him 45 minutes to come up with a training plan.
He then went and developed the plan.  “I sealed my fate as one of Colonel
Fletcher’s (in) famous Four-Horsemen and realized the faith and trust he
had put in me,” he said with a smile. Colonel Feldmeier said training
for a temporary duty assignment to Belize was the hardest thing he had ever
done. “My right arm was Master Sgt. Connie Holverson without whom the
Belize mission or any of the training exercises I ever planned would not have
happened, successfully anyway. Whenever I approached her about a big undertaking,
all she would always ask was, ‘What do we need to do?’ I may have gotten a lot of credit for putting those things together but, I did it standing on her shoulders.”  He said a proud, but surprising moment, came in 2002 as he was named the Air Force Reserve Command’s Officer of the Year. Another highlight was being asked to write a cover story for “Officer” magazine.

The 932nd Airlift Wing said farewell recently to Lt. Col. Richard Feldmeier as he entered retirement. Colonel Feldmeier credits others for many of his accomplishments. “I had great people like Colonel Wade and Col. Roger Wujek, Chief Master Sergeants Kris McManus and Ron May, and Master Sgt. Brian Eckhardt to guide and teach me. Chief May taught me how to be leader. Chief McManus taught me more than I can say, but thank you will never be enough. Colonel Wade guided my career. Colonel Wujek and Colonel Fletcher gave me a chance to put it all together. What better a role model than Colonel Wujek? He is the leader you personally couldn’t bear to disappoint, need I say more?” Colonel Feldmeier said that as an observer in an Operational Readiness Exercise meeting, he told the group, after a lengthy discussion, to give him 45 minutes to come up with a training plan. He then went and developed the plan. “I sealed my fate as one of Colonel Fletcher’s (in) famous Four-Horsemen and realized the faith and trust he had put in me,” he said with a smile. Colonel Feldmeier said training for a temporary duty assignment to Belize was the hardest thing he had ever done. “My right arm was Master Sgt. Connie Holverson without whom the Belize mission or any of the training exercises I ever planned would not have happened, successfully anyway. Whenever I approached her about a big undertaking, all she would always ask was, ‘What do we need to do?’ I may have gotten a lot of credit for putting those things together but, I did it standing on her shoulders.” He said a proud, but surprising moment, came in 2002 as he was named the Air Force Reserve Command’s Officer of the Year. Another highlight was being asked to write a cover story for “Officer” magazine.

Before this humanitarian relief mission to Bulize, the 932nd Airlift Wing's Lt. Col. Richard Feldmeier ha a long history of military men in his family. His grandfather was a member of the Coast Guard, and his father and three uncles were members of the U.S. Navy.  In 1970, it was his turn. Back then, Colonel Feldmeier was a 19-year-old recent high school graduate. He then began attending college and discovered “the college life.” At that point he decided he wasn’t ready for college.  He decided to enlist into the Air Force, just in time, because in between basic training and technical school, his draft number was selected. It was the same as his birthdate...number 13. He went on to attend the Lowry AFB, Colo., Technical School for Inventory Management.  He retired in August from the 932nd Airlift Wing, 932nd Medical Group, at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

Before this humanitarian relief mission to Belize, the 932nd Airlift Wing's Lt. Col. Richard Feldmeier had a long history of military men in his family. His grandfather was a member of the Coast Guard, and his father and three uncles were members of the U.S. Navy. In 1970, it was his turn. Back then, Colonel Feldmeier was a 19-year-old recent high school graduate. He then began attending college and discovered “the college life.” At that point he decided he wasn’t ready for college. He decided to enlist into the Air Force, just in time, because in between basic training and technical school, his draft number was selected. It was the same as his birthdate...number 13. He went on to attend the Lowry AFB, Colo., Technical School for Inventory Management. He retired in August from the 932nd Airlift Wing, 932nd Medical Group, at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Lt. Col. Richard Feldmeier retired from the 932nd Airlift Wing in 2008.

He decided to share his thoughts on being in the military and he has a long history of military men in his family. 

His grandfather was a member of the Coast
Guard, and his father and three uncles
were members of the U.S. Navy.
In 1970, it was his turn. 

Back then, Colonel Feldmeier was a 19-year-old
recent high school graduate. He then
began attending college and discovered
"the college life." At that point he decided
he wasn't ready for college. 

He decided to enlist into the Air
Force, just in time, because in between
basic training and technical school, his
draft number was selected. It was the
same as his birthdate...number 13. 

He went on to attend the Lowry Air Force Base,
Colorado Technical School for Inventory
Management. 

"Back then, we were in Vietnam,
and I felt I had to do something for
America," said Colonel Feldmeier. "I
had a friend in the Army killed there."
"Now, I see kids in our family
studying the Vietnam War in their history
class at school, and it makes me
realize how old I am. I remember a
friend from the 101st Airborne met me
at the airport in uniform when I came
home after my basic training. 

We were coming through the airport and someone
threw a soda on us. I realized then
I was doing what was right, and they
weren't. My buddy, Dennis, came
home with two Purple Hearts and a
Bronze Star. The guys over there did
what they had to do to stay alive and
keep their buddies alive," he said.
Later a sergeant, Colonel
Feldmeier ended up in the Missouri Air
Guard at Jefferson Barracks, Mo., in
the Tactical Air Control Center.
He left the active duty after six
years as an Air Force staff sergeant
back in 1976. 

He took a job with Coca Cola,
and started attending nursing school.
Later, he worked at Lutheran and
Barnes hospitals, going on to work for
the Veteran's Administration. 

"The Air Force Reserve was
looking for surgical nurses and Col.
Terrence Wade convinced me it was
only two days a month." 

After an 18-year break in service,
the young NCO came back as a more
experienced captain in 1994. 

He couldn't believe he was an officer. 

"Back then, when I was in the
National Guard, I would see a
lieutenant's bars or a master sergeant's
stripes and thought they were well beyond
what I would ever achieve. I could
never imagine myself being called
"Colonel" as I am today," he said.
His biggest memory was three
months later, when he was coming out
of the chow hall, still a very wet behind
the ears captain, and the chief master
sergeant of the Air Force saluted him. 

In November 2001, he was called
up with 30 people in the Contingency
Hospital's surgical package. 

"I was responsible for these
people and you look at things a lot differently,"
he said. "I learned quickly that
as an officer, sooner or later, the 'buck'
is going to stop with you, and there is
no committee to fall back on." 

"I never thought when Colonel
Wade swore me in that I would be as
successful as I have been." 

Colonel Feldmeier credits others
for many of his accomplishments. 

"I had great people like Colonel
Wade and Col. Roger Wujek, Chief
Master Sergeants Kris McManus and
Ron May, and Master Sgt. Brian
Eckhardt to guide and teach me. Chief May taught
me how to be leader. Chief McManus
taught me more than I can say, but thank
you will never be enough. Colonel Wade
guided my career. Colonel Wujek and
Colonel Fletcher gave me a chance to
put it all together. What better a role
model than Colonel Wujek? He is the
leader you personally couldn't bear to
disappoint," he said.

Colonel Feldmeier said that as an
observer in an Operational Readiness
Exercise meeting, he told the group, after
a lengthy discussion, to give him 45
minutes to come up with a training plan.
He then went and developed the plan. 

"I sealed my fate as one of Colonel
Fletcher's (in) famous Four-Horsemen
and realized the faith and trust he
had put in me," he said with a smile. 

Colonel Feldmeier said training
for a temporary duty assignment to
Belize was the hardest thing he had ever
done. "My right arm was Master Sgt.
Connie Holverson without whom the
Belize mission or any of the training exercises
I ever planned would not have
happened, successfully anyway.  I may have
gotten a lot of credit for putting those
things together but, I did it standing on
her shoulders," he added.

He said a proud, but surprising
moment, came in 2002 as he was
named the Air Force Reserve
Command's Officer of the Year. Another
highlight was being asked to write
a cover story for "Officer" magazine. 

His thoughts for the future:

"I think sometimes the enlisted corps is well
ahead of the officer corps training,
mentoring and taking care of each other.
Senior officers, pick a junior officer to
'bring along' - remember they are your
replacement. Likewise, I encourage
today's young officers to latch on to
'Top 3' enlisted and listen to them. In
my career, they have yet to steer me
wrong," he proudly stated.

"Junior officers--the first time
someone comes to you and asks you
to make the big, final decision, it will be
scary. Read your commission and have
that 'special trust and confidence' in yourself
too. Also remember, rank has
nothing to do with authority," said the Colonel.

If an Airman has experience
to put up a tent and you don't know, let
him lead us forward he pointed out.

"Have strong family, spiritual and
emotional preparations, and train families
to be ready. Most of us can do anything
we are called to do as long as those
left behind are doing fine. No matter
what the Air Force has or hasn't given
you by the time you deploy, they will
give it to you over there; by then it is
way too late to be secure in knowing
your family is and will be fine.
Military is a mindset you can't turn
off and on two days a month. It takes
dedication, and it gets in your blood and
you embrace it," he continued.

"Military service makes for better people,
people who realize there are consequences
to actions and having to be self
reliant. Tell me if there is a place in the
civilian sector where a 25-year old is
responsible for a multi-million dollar
piece of hardware and for the lives of
his or her subordinates. The bonds you
form here are stronger than most any
other. People not in or close to the military
will never understand that. We are
in this to serve America at the pleasure
of the President, but we serve each
other first; at least, that's how I see it. 

"One last thing. An officer cannot
be more honored than to be asked personally
to do a reenlistment, retirement
or commission. 

"I've been honored by numerous
requests, again thank you all, and I'm honored
to serve America and my brothers-in-arms," he concluded.