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  • Farewell from the wing commander

    On the eve of my last day leading Dover Air Force Base, I am again reminded of Simon Sinek’s lesson in humility: I deserve a Styrofoam cup. Sinek says that the ceramic cup was never meant for me, it was meant for the position I held. I deserve a Styrofoam cup. I love this lesson, not just as a personal reminder in humility, but as a message that it is the position that is deserving of the protocol commensurate with the responsibility of the job. The position of being a wing commander at Dover AFB is nothing short of magical. More so than anywhere I’ve served, Dover AFB perfectly offsets the responsibility of command with equal authority to act decisively. It matters in so many ways, but first is our combat airlift mission.
  • Shouldering, shedding and sharing burdens

    The word burden often carries a negative connotation. The word burden often conjures up thoughts of hardship and despair. Years ago, my greatest source of inspiration for leadership, “The Book,” changed how I viewed the concept of burdens. My favorite chapter provides three major takeaways on the concept: some burdens are meant to be shouldered; some burdens are meant to be shed; some burdens are meant to be shared.
  • Celebrating military children

    What is the origin of the Month of the Military Child? The Month of the Military Child is part of a legacy left by former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. Since his establishment of the Month of the Military Child in 1986, there have been an increasing number of campaigns, recognizing the needs of military children. Weinberger wanted to reflect and recognize the contributions and personal sacrifices our children make to our armed forces. He saw the need to not leave children behind.
  • Leveraging Technology for More Effective Teams

    In March of 2020 a public health emergency was declared on Dover AFB due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The idea that we have been operating with constraints of various forms for over a year at this point is absolutely astonishing to me. I’m sure most can relate when I say some days it seems like this all started a couple months ago, while other days it is difficult to remember how we did some things before this all began. What is certain is the fact technology played a critical role in getting leaders and their organizations through the toughest of times.
  • The Importance of Leading Up

    When I arrived at Dover for my command tour, I was coming off a year as an instructor at Squadron Officer School, followed by a year as a student at Air Command and Staff College, where I was introduced to a concept called meta-leadership. The concept was originally developed at Harvard and is presented in many different variations. The version I was introduced to is represented by four arrows pointing up, down, left and right to represent the concepts of leading up, down, across and beyond.
  • Rethinking how we lead

    While there are many theories on leadership, it is inherently up to each individual to determine how they will lead. I used this as motivation to read multiple leadership books leading up to my Change of Command to prepare myself for what was to come. Knowing that I was leaving a staff position with senior leaders to lead first term Airman, I felt it was important to understand what their values and concerns were. What I was not prepared for is how different today’s Airmen are from my expectations. Today’s Airmen are highly educated, diverse and independent thinkers.
  • Overcoming “It”

    Have you had a life altering moment? Not like dodging a car accident that made your heart skip a few beats. I’m talking about a moment where the fundamentals of who you are become questioned. The type when you look in the mirror and the reflection you see is not yours. If you have, I want you to think back to that specific moment in time when you decided not to let “it” define you. This very sentence reminds me of a revealing quote by Simon Sinek, “Most of us live our lives by accident-we live as it happens. Fulfillment comes when we live our lives on purpose.”
  • Thank you, Team Dover!

    Last January at my commander’s call, I talked about our strategic calendar. At the time, when we looked at September, it was extremely busy … too busy. So, we made decisions to lighten September’s load. We asked Air Mobility Command to move our Unit Effectiveness Inspection, and they did — we had it in May instead of September. We moved our next base exercise from September to the second week of November. This came at a price. For example, we lost a few months of preparation for the UEI, but it did not stop the wing from doing well and earning an “Excellent.” As September approached, the load still was not light enough. The air show and the Air Force Ball in the same weekend proved too difficult; so we modified how we commemorated the Air Force’s birthday, changing it from a ball format to celebrating it in the squadrons and on the flight line the day prior to the air show.
  • Talking Politics? Know Your Limits

    Today’s political climate is, to say the least, spirited and vivacious. Whether it’s conversations around the dinner table, on the sidewalk downtown or at your weekly ukulele club meeting, politics seem to have taken center stage. No matter your political leaning, it is important to remember that all military personnel and civilian employees are required to follow DoD and Air Force Regulations concerning involvement in political activities.
  • Looking back: From airman basic to squadron commander

    Over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking about how I got here. I’m a simple guy who comes from a simple family. Almost 20 years ago I left home for the first time, to join the Air Force as Airman Basic Stermer. I was joining the Air Force and I hadn’t even seen an airplane until I got on one to go to basic training. Now I’m the commander of an aircraft maintenance squadron, a wingman, a father and a husband. I’d love to tell you it was all part of some plan, something I had crafted in the middle of the night that I could be proud of and follow; no such luck. I wouldn’t say it was accidental either, that would take credit away from those who labored, some at great pain because I was stubborn, to make me better.
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