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April Chief's Concerns

Chief Master Sgt. Everett Perkins, with the 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., March 3, 2013.
(National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Everett Perkins, from the 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson/Released)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --
As I write this article, I am preparing for my final drill as a Swamp Fox. It has been a great thirty-one year plus journey from my time in the active Air Force to my twenty-two plus years in the SCANG. In that time, I have seen many changes take place like newer jets, increases in primary assigned aircraft, increases in manning, closing of units and the addition of the active association. One thing is constant and that is the great Airmen I have had the privilege to work with through the years.

As a young Airman on active duty, I was blessed to have great supervisors who took an interest in me and made it a point to develop me. These leaders presented me with new challenges, coached me, and then let me fly. In other words, my supervisors trained me, but once the training was complete, they trusted me to get the mission accomplished, stepping in only to provide course corrections when needed. I challenge each supervisor to do the same.  Mentor your folks and give them opportunities to excel.  Lead them but let them fly.

When I entered the SCANG, again I was blessed with great leaders who pushed me even when I was hesitant. Not only did they provide that push, but they trumpeted my successes. How often do we see leaders forget to acknowledge the contributions of their subordinates thus killing their personal initiative? Supervisors and leaders must ensure that subordinates are recognized for their accomplishments because it breeds motivation. Motivation leads to greater mission accomplishment.

For the younger Airmen, anyone who has worked with me has heard me talk about being ready or prepared for opportunities. I'm sure it is not the first time you've heard this, but I want to foot stomp it. It means taking care of your Professional Military Education as soon as possible and also accomplishing upgrade training requirements as soon as you can. Opportunities don't always forecast when they're coming, so you must prepare yourself in advance. This concept has worked in my own career. I can remember as a junior NCO taking a survey of my career status and thinking with the current situation that I was probably "stuck" for the next several years. All it took was one simple personnel move later and suddenly I was in a position to advance, but had I not been ready, it could have passed me by.

Know as much about your job as you possibly can. Work to be the individual that people come to with questions; not to be a "know-it-all", but to be able to help others. Don't be an individual who hoards information in order to secure your worth. Share what you know with others, so the team can be lifted. This is the embodiment of service before self, a core value. 

Learn as much about the larger organization as you can, especially other areas that you are directly connected. Knowing how your job fits into the overall mission enhances your ability to support operational goals. It allows you to prioritize functions to focus resources on the most relevant areas.

One of my mentors, Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Stack, often used the phrase "bittersweet" to describe a situation in which something good was happening, but there was also an aspect of sadness. This phrase perfectly captures my current state of mind. As I prepare for my transition to retirement, I look forward to the possibilities, but I will miss the daily interactions with the Swamp Fox Airmen. I have solace in knowing that I am leaving the unit in capable hands. Keep being the premier organization that you are!