Leadership and Character

  • Published
  • By Col. Donald Fletcher, Jr.
  • 932nd Airlift Wing
As I sit back and reflect on this past year and a half, I am simply filled with a sense of pride that defies description or appropriate adjectives. Please indulge me while I share my opinion on why this organization epitomizes these two mentioned traits.
When I arrived at the 932d Airlift Wing in June of 2004, I found an organization mired in uncertainty. With the possibility of the complete loss of the flying mission and the maintenance function it would be assumed that this unit would be in a state of tremendous consternation. To the contrary, I found an organization with a tremendous amount of character and a work ethic second to none. In spite of the fact that this unit at one time began sending all the aircraft to the “bone yard” and that the wing would likely take down the flag and at best remain a Reserve group at Scott AFB, I found a unit that, against the odds, was committed to their survival and determined to look optimistically to the future rather than dwell on past or even their present situation. I could not help but be energized by the attitudes and character that you all demonstrated.
What amazed me most, besides the character displayed by this unit, was the leadership. I simply laid out a simple vision and a set of goals and the people in this unit put the plans in place and then executed those plans to perfection. Remember, as I have said “leadership in this organization is not rank dependent.” I have witnessed leadership throughout this unit from the SrA to our junior officers; this unit has the greatest NCO leadership that I have had the privilege of working with during my 30 years in the Air Force.
The professionalism you all have displayed in setting up this “New Mission” and preparing for the “ORI” is a testimony to your “Leadership and Character.” But what is most important, and what you proved to yourselves, is that hard work as a team is rewarded--in this case with the “Excellent” grade on the recent ORI.
You also proved that success was also driven by your desire to establish solid processes. These processes were successfully tested during the ORI and will serve you well into the future. As we look forward to 2006 with the challenges and opportunities that are before you, like new mission, personnel readiness and the UCI/HSI, please remember that these continue to be process-driven events. Continue to take the time to do the process development and you will enjoy the continued success that you have achieved this last year.
As I search for great farewell addresses such as Lee’s, McArthur’s and Eisenhower’s, I came to a very quick conclusion. These were their words simply spoken from the heart. So I decided to put those away and simply speak to you from my heart. What you have demonstrated in the past and what I expect from you in the future is the same outstanding effort you all have consistently given. This effort is simply a result of your commitment to the two original principles that I began this article with of “Leadership and Character.”  These are certainly your strengths and the hallmark of this organization. The future of the 932 AW has never been brighter. You have all given me so much that I can never begin to express my gratitude. As I began I have never been more proud of any organization that I been affiliated with, in both my corporate and military experience.
I would like to leave you all with one thought. Having just returned from my 30th college reunion at a great southern institution, during school, as I would leave 3rd battalion each morning, I would pass these words by Robert E. Lee: “Duty is the sublimist word in the English language. You cannot do more than your duty; you should never wish to do less.” I am in awe of your patriotism, dedication and your willingness to potentially sacrifice time from family and jobs to be part of the Air Force. You all continue to do your “Duty.” I will continue to ask God to bless this unit, bless each one of you and your families and for God to continue to bless America. Thanks again--it has truly been a privilege to serve with you and it has been an outstanding ride because of each one of you and I wish you all Godspeed.