Be a better wingman: know your Airmen

  • Published
  • By CMSgt. Jeffery D Maberry
  • Command Chief, 97th Medical Group
I really enjoy watching old World War II movies. As a medic, I am especially drawn to the scenes where the soldier gets hit and cries out "medic!" The medic grabs their bag and charges up to the front line through any obstacle to take care of their injured friend. At all costs, they get the wounded out of harm's way. I like to think of that medic as a modern-day wingman, one who exemplifies the ways that we, as Airmen, grab our bags and fill our toolkits to protect one another.
Since my arrival at Altus Air Force Base, we have been through a Health Services Inspection, prepping for a Compliance Inspection, Changes of Command and Air Mobility Command Rodeo. The mission and teamwork here is truly remarkable and ingrained in the 97th Air Mobility Wing culture like no other place I have been. My focus since arriving has been mission, people and programs - all of which are very important, but the two areas that concern me the most are mission and people.

We do a great job with the mission and we all know there is no room for failure. It is deep-rooted into all of us from the time we joined this great team. We as total-force Airmen have been engaged in combat operations for the past 10 years and no one does it better. Now, as we go through CI preparations and take a hard look at our programs, it is more important than ever to look at our Airmen. The Air Force spends a lot of time and money ensuring we are the best wingmen and leaders we can be. We go through professional military education and resiliency training. We get briefed on all the great helping agencies at our installations that are just a phone call away. We fill our toolboxes and know our resources.

Of all the remarkable things I have been taught, the thing which has served me best is knowing my people - knowing what makes them tick, what stressors are currently in their lives, what things are going well and what things aren't. We need to know people's moods and day-to-day tendencies, and when you notice something out of whack, don't hesitate to find out what is going on. Don't hesitate to seek out problems at any level. If you feel something isn't right, don't take "everything is fine" or "nothing" for an answer. Be visible and available for all your Airmen, any time and any place. Make time every day to get out from behind your desk and engage in real face-to-face conversations. Our mission is no-fail and people make the mission happen.

Our greatest resource truly is our people, and as wingmen and leaders, we have the greatest opportunity to protect these resources and pull them off the front line when needed. At every level, supervisors have the ability to influence Airmen and make a difference in someone's life. Know your people, fill your toolbox and the next time your Airman cries, "Medic!" be ready to assist and get them the help they need. This, too, is a no-fail mission.