Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Saturday, March 09, 2013

AETC command chief to Airmen: “You matter”

by Staff Sgt. Clinton Atkins
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

3/7/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- The command chief for Air Education and Training Command is using his conventional wisdom to lead today's Airmen by being out front and connecting.

AETC Command Chief Master Sgt. Gerardo Tapia Jr., formerly the command chief with the 12th Air Force at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., has been on the job just more than a month and already knows what he's going to do to lead AETC's Airmen. He's been doing it his entire career - taking care of Airmen.

This is Tapia's third assignment as a command chief, and he knows all too well how to do a job he loves after 28 years of service.

His background in Personnel and master's degree in human resources development and management give him a distinct advantage when it comes to developing and leading people.

"I am incredibly comfortable being in the business of developing our Airmen," said Tapia. "Caring for people is a natural thing for me. I've always had a passion for people."

He plans to visit with as many Airmen as possible in order to be a conduit between AETC Commander Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr.

"If General Rice comes in here and asks how our Airmen are doing, how can I answer that question if I haven't been out to the field with them, shared meals with them, come in late and walked the dorms and been in the duty sections," he said. "That's where you get the real feel for how things are going and Airmen will really open up to you over a plate of hamburger and french fries."

Tapia recently made his first base visit as the new command chief to Luke AFB, Ariz., where he spent time with the Airmen to talk about key issues such as Comprehensive Airmen Fitness.

When the command chief speaks to his Airmen he reminds them about the faith and trust the Air Force has in them.

"My big message to them is that standards in this command matter; that level of excellence that we have grown accustomed to putting forth in this command matters; the extra effort they give us every single day matters; that their families matter; that their professional development matters to me," he said.

Tapia will diligently deliver that message wherever his travels take him throughout the command. And even though he may not be able to reach every Airman, he hopes his words are echoed all over AETC.

"I honestly wish I had enough time to go around and meet every single person in the command and tell them I'm proud of them and thank them for their sacrifices, but I know I probably won't be able to meet all of them," he said.

"I have them (the Airmen) on my mind constantly," said Tapia. "I care deeply about them and their families. I will be working as hard as I possibly can to ensure that we have their best interests in mind. I am their voice for that."

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