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October Commander's Corner

U.S. Air Force Col. Joseph Stewart, the commander of the 169th Medical Group, at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C, May 6, 2018. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

U.S. Air Force Col. Joseph Stewart, the commander of the 169th Medical Group, at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C, May 6, 2018. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

Hello fellow Swamp Fox,

It is my honor to have the opportunity to address you today and be able to share some of my thoughts with the Airmen of the greatest organization I have ever belonged. I am humbled at my appointment as the 169th Medical Group commander. I look forward to serving each and every one of you in the best way possible.

In 1944, U.S. Marines Corps were taking Kwajalein Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands. A newspaper correspondent wrote about a sight “he had never seen before.” As he advanced with the Marines, they noticed a young Marine floating face down in the water, badly wounded. Another Marine, who was also mortally wounded, lifted the Marine’s head out of the water and dragged him ashore, calling for help.  The correspondent replied, “there is nothing we can do for this boy.” Not giving up, the second Marine put the head of his companion on his knee and lifted him up until help arrived and the two survived.

I tell this story because as Swamp Foxes we should come prepared every day to inspire and lift each other up. Of course, as our wing commander stated, “Mission first-people always,” we have a job to do.  Historically, Swamp Fox Airmen have done their jobs and done them well. However, there is a time that we all face as leaders, supervisors, and as peers that we have to reprimand somebody to pick up the pace and do their job. We should do this in a motivating way and not in a suppressive way. If we do this, we can uplift our fellow Swamp Foxes and get things back on track quickly. Very few individuals are a lost cause such as the wounded Marine above. In fact, as we have seen, many will surprise you if given a chance, the right motivation and support. It is imperative that we find what motivates those individuals that we lead so the mission does not suffer.

As many of you probably heard or read, the C-130 Hercules is undergoing significant upgrades. Most of the workhorses entered service in the 1970s. They can still fly and complete their missions without the upgrades. However, to be more efficient and effective the upgrades are necessary. The old saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ really does not have the same carry that it did years ago. We must be proactive in making things better for both the organization and the individual in today’s military.

I do not want to come off too preachy because there are times I find myself reverting back to human nature and taking the lazy way out by being harsh instead of finding how to relate to or build up my troops. In fact, recently one of the medical officers shared an article with me on how to mentor the millennials.  He obviously saw one of the areas I needed some work. 

There have been times here on base when an organization or an individual has been scrutinized unfairly without the full story or circumstances. It is important that we as a wing try to be constructive as opposed to critical, without allowing standards of the wing to falter or waiver and without allowing substandard policies or expectations.

I have tried to live by the saying, “if you are only complaining about life… you are being selfish.” Look around and see the many blessings that we have and the small miracles that occur often. This includes the men and women of the SCANG that sacrifice for the betterment of our state and nation. It is truly a remarkable family that we have here. We should not only be great wingmen to help with resiliency and emotional support, but we should be teachers and trainers as well. This will allow our young Airmen to be prepared for increased operations tempo, greater mission challenges and a changing military force.