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This Deployment – Leadership, Integrity and Commitment

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. June Oldman
  • 379th Expeditionary Aeroevacuation Squadron commander.
We all joined the military at different ages, motivated by different circumstances. We follow in the footsteps of, and are entrusted with, the legacy of those who have gone before us. And, like many, we dreamt of the day that we become commanders. Along the way, we began to learn the meaning of words like Leadership, Integrity, and Commitment; words that are interrelated, each associated with the other. Leadership is a complex issue. Add commitment to doing it well and with integrity, which requires more than a commitment to itself. Not all leaders are commanders; but a good commander is a great leader. How do I best demonstrate this in my role as commander?

Everyone should act with justice and mercy, but the stakes go up for those who lead. We influence decisions on promotions, transfers, and help determine the direction of those we lead. The Golden Rule implores us to, “Behave justly and mercifully toward other people and walk humbly before God.” As a commander, I incorporate this rule in the way I lead, and acknowledge my human foibles, hoping it helps me to lead more humanely.

Integrity is holding to the same standard. It does not demand perfection or guarantee a perfect life. Trying to please everyone will, at best, drive you to distraction, and at worst, turn you into a hypocrite. Integrity for me is having a moral center that influences my behavior. When I violate that moral center, I recognize it, confess it, make restitution, seek forgiveness and reconfirm the standard.

Commitment demonstrates an overwhelming level of trust – to others, to a mission, to a cause. Here in the ‘Deid, we’re committed to working with those in our squadrons and groups; with partners, supporting different missions, including for us, transporting our wounded; and the sound of airplanes taking off to us, is the sound of freedom! Every day, with that sound, we are reminded why we raised our hand and swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

As I got ready to deploy, I reflected on how best to lead our Airmen and promote the integration needed to successfully execute our mission. What goal can we all strive for? What legacy can we hope to leave in the four short months we are here in Al Udeid? And how will we do so?

We became a team, blending active duty, Guard and Reserve members. We had to be honest and willing to expose our vulnerabilities, because our strength as a team depends on our ability to trust each other. As a leader, my trust in each team member and their confident belief that I trust them is essential as we undertake our mission, the first of which is about people. I am very proud of our people of the 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and the entire Grand Slam team!

Our common goal is to make a difference – in our support of the missions of the Grand Slam Wing and of each other. In our dedication to making every wounded warrior we transport know that they are our highest priority; that we honor them and render safe, timely, appropriate care. To give our Airmen a source of pride and ownership; to know they are crucial to our mission. Deep down, we all want “to leave it better than we found it.”

Like many commanders here, I believe that the 379 EAES is blessed with some of the best and brightest officers, non-commissioned officers and Airmen. With all the rotations we’ve had here, sometimes we wonder whether there could be anything left to improve. Yet in this constantly changing environment, we will find areas to adapt and overcome. About a month after we arrived and settled into our spaces, our squadron leaders were asking questions and challenging assumptions. Are we doing the right things? Are we doing those things, right? How are we measuring the things we do? From our additional duties to the specifics of our mission, they were discovering many areas of improvement. That initial knowledge can be daunting, especially since our positions here are one-deep, so any out-of-cycle projects or unscheduled processes require effort and time above and beyond our demanding schedules. Sometimes we wonder if there is enough time in the day to accomplish everything, but we always find a way.

We at the Grand Slam wing and the 379 EAES, have an awesome responsibility here and a lot of which to be proud. What makes it extra special is the knowledge that we will be handing a better squadron to our replacements, before we return to our proud families and our grateful home station units.

Nothing much can be accomplished here in the “Deid”, alone. Our squadron cannot fulfill our mission without the support of many and we are extremely grateful to all who graciously support us: Our command team, the various operators, equipment support, and all that goes along with getting us off the ground and to our patients.

I cherish the camaraderie with those in our command cell, and my fellow commanders who encourage and support and keep me laughing even through, and after, a challenging, tough day.

As one of our officers commented, “Seeking efficiency, cost-savings, and program integrity is more than a collection of bullets on a letter of evaluation.” Now more than ever, it is our obligation as Air Force professionals to give the taxpayers the best product, the best service that their money can buy. It is our way to thank them for their enduring trust.”