Great people, taking pride and knowing their stuff

  • Published
  • By Col. Rich Burchfield
  • 21st Space Wing individual mobilization augmentee to the wing commander
What do the following 21st Space Wing folks and their units have in common with regard to the upcoming Air Force Space Command inspection? Master Sgt. Walt McClung (21st Force Support Squadron), Airman 1st Class Leslie Schindler (21st Aerospace Medicine Squadron), Tech. Sgt. Tom Green (21st Security Forces Squadron), Airman 1st Class John Ownbey-Fishel (21st Comptroller), 1st Lt. Stacy Glaus (21st Space Wing Public Affairs), Jeff Adams (21st Logistics Readiness Squadron), Capt. Ian Holt (16th Space Control Squadron), Jason Cook (721st Civil Engineer Squadron) and Marilyn Lemmon (21st Contracting Squadron).

I believe it boils down to the following core elements: 1) great people, 2) who take tremendous pride in their work and 3) know their stuff. In fact, everyone I've met in the 21st Space Wing during the past five months has exhibited those qualities...a recipe for success!

Twenty-four years ago I experienced my first major command inspection by the Strategic Air Command IG. It seemed like we had been preparing forever and there was definitely a sense of burnout creeping into the picture as we were entering "the window," but in the end the wing came together in a big way. It was clear we were one team with a shared focus...the dread of the impending inspection had transformed into an upbeat Braveheart battle speech vibe (minus the kilts, swords and horses). Part of the enthusiasm came from knowing it wouldn't be long and the inspection would be over, but the overwhelming feeling was a sense of focus, team and a desire to put our best foot forward. One could only hope we would peak at the right doubt there was a delicate balance at stake.

The day finally arrived and the SAC IG landed. First stop...the wing commander's office for the in-brief. You could have heard a pin drop from anywhere on base during that initial hour. As soon as the IG left the commander's office, phones started ringing and it was like someone hit the "battle stations" broadcast alarm and the entire base came alive with an amazing fight! In the blink of an eye, all the preparation and lessons learned were fully engaged.

With a simulated boom, the base was in the throws of an emergency management scenario. All agencies coordinated together with keen precision and a sense of urgency that was right out of our own on! The intensity grew during the inspection, but we were ready and it was clear the collective wing was on the same sheet of music. We were a great team of professionals, who took tremendous pride in our work and knew the mission better than the folks inspecting least that's how we felt. As for yours truly, I learned the true meaning of "pucker factor." I was lucky enough to get selected to take a written test and then "no-notice" certify to the wing commander prior to going on alert. That was followed up two days later by being paired with a different commander to go "in the box" for an've got to love those command evaluators.

At the end of the inspection, we crammed the majority of the wing into the base theater for the official outbrief. The entire place erupted for every unit that was given a "blue and green" dot (outstanding and excellent) on the stoplight charts and an unpleasant hush overcame the crowd when other colors appeared. Either way, we took all the marks as a team. Then came the overall crew force rating...Blue!! When we finally settled down, the wing commander came to the podium and politely said, "Mr. Inspector, I thank you and your team for your time and professionalism. Now please, get off my base!" It took about one second for that to register with the crowd and then the party started. (Just so you know, that final statement was a tradition [when your wing did well] and it was awesome to hear.)

Although I don't expect our wing commander to ask the AFSPC IG to leave the base where he works, I am confident we are peaking at the right time. We are a great team, so stay focused, work as a cohesive unit, give your absolute best and demand the same of each other. I wouldn't trade an ounce of experience from my first MAJCOM was priceless. Let's make this coming June the same for the 21st Space Wing.