Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Strength in Diversity: Chief Marler's perspective

by Chief Master Sgt. Vincent Marler
48th Fighter Wing command chief

6/26/2014 - ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- I've served in our great Air Force for 28 years now.

My Air Force career has taken my family and me all over the United States and Europe and a few other places to boot, expanding our horizons beyond anything I could have imagined as a young Airman starting my career in 1986.

However, the expansion of my horizons was not because of all the cool places I've lived or visited, it was because of all the fantastic people we met in those cool places.

Having grown up in a small, rural Missouri town, I would have to say I was somewhat sheltered when it came to worldly knowledge. For me, my small town experience was the same as everybody else's in the world.

My life experience was my frame of reference for everything -- I didn't know what I didn't know. I love my hometown and all the great people there, but looking back through the years I can see now how fortunate I am to have been exposed, throughout my career, to so many cultures, races, religions, nationalities and, probably most importantly, different ways of thinking.

I've learned to really appreciate what different ways of thinking and life experiences brings to the accomplishment of the mission. I've learned to be on the lookout for those diverse experiences amongst our Air Force members and to hopefully capitalize on a fresh set of ideas and innovations that our members bring to the fight.

Diversity is absolutely our varying backgrounds, race, gender, religion, socio-economic status and other life experiences, but it's also the diversity our Airmen bring from different assignments and major commands, stateside experience vs. overseas experience, someone with special-duty assignments or someone who has headquarters or staff experience.

Diversity is Angela Cline-Upton, a civilian spouse of an active duty member working in the housing office and doing amazing things to take care of our dorm residents. As a spouse, she brings a wealth of knowledge to what it takes to support our young Airmen and give them a place to call home.

Diversity is Tech. Sgt. Ricardo AnzoƔtegui, who was born in Mexico, immigrated to the U.S. and learned to speak English by watching soap operas on television. He was also one of the best tower air traffic controllers I've seen and filled a vital position as a Spanish-speaking controller in Spain.

Diversity is Master Sgt. Jose Alfonso, who is tri-lingual and one of the best training managers I've known. His language skills were critical when it came to working with and training with our Italian partners.

Diversity is our new civil engineer commander, Maj. Jonathon Byrnes, who took a quick look at our barrier plan during a recent exercise and proposed a new plan that would eliminate a traffic bottleneck while enhancing security. He provided a new perspective that left everyone else saying, "Why didn't we see that previously?" His diverse background and expertise brought new insight and innovative thinking.

I have come to seek diversity because it is a strength on which we must capitalize as an Air Force -- it's an asset with unlimited potential, but it must be cultivated as well. One of the 48th Fighter Wing's priorities is to strengthen the team.

Part of strengthening the team comes from developing talents from the full spectrum of assets, with diversity at the top of the list. We have talents and fresh ideas from all walks of life coming through our gates every day.

It's the young, first-term Airman on his or her first duty assignment. It's the experienced Guardian Angel with multiple deployments. It's the new commander who has a new perspective.

It's on us: commanders, senior NCOs and NCOs, to identify and exploit our diversity. I can't tell you where the next great idea or innovation will come from, but I can tell you it will come to light a lot quicker if we seek it out.

It's on leadership at every level to cultivate diversity by getting to know their Airmen and capitalizing on their ideas and innovative thinking. I challenge each and every leader to continue to find the diversity and use it to our advantage -- the mission is counting on it!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A lesson in Discipleship

by Senior Airman Nathan Maysonet
47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

6/25/2014 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas  -- Air Force Chaplains serve the serving; they are trusted counselors who mentor fellow Airmen and help them navigate troubled waters, but before one may take on the responsibility of strengthening Airmen spiritually, one must first complete the Chaplain Candidate Program.

For the past five weeks, Laughlin's chapel has hosted one of these candidates here, helping to grow him into a potential Air Force chaplain.

Second Lt. Paul Walker, 47th Flying Training Wing chaplain candidate, arrived on base May 19 for one of his required supervised internships with an active duty unit as part of the Chaplain Candidate Program.

"I have enjoyed the people here," said Walker. "The base is kind of out in nowhere but that is what makes the community stronger. I like being able to meet people here and interact with them, I like learning about what they do to complete Laughlin's mission."

Walker, who attends the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina, joined the Air Force's chaplain program after deciding that he wanted to minister to the Air Force.

"I knew I wanted to be a chaplain," said Walker. "In 2010, I started to interview chaplains to get a feel for their duties and responsibilities and I eventually joined the seminary at Southeastern. I knew from the start I wanted to serve in the Air Force because I'm an Air Force brat and I respect the military culture."

Determined to serve, Walker spoke with recruiters, and decided to enter the Chaplain Candidate Program.

Candidates in the program join the reserves while working toward a Master of Divinity degree or the equivalent while enrolled full time in seminary or some other professional school of religion to become a representative of their faith. After completing the program, Airmen remain in the reserves and must complete years of religious work in their communities before being considered for active duty.

During the summer months, candidates complete approximately 115 days of active duty training including Officer Training School, Chaplain Candidate Course and supervised internships, which is what brings Walker to Laughlin.

"These active duty internships are very similar to college internships," said Walker. "It's like an engagement, the Air Force and you are testing each other out."

Since arriving, Walker has shadowed Laughlin's chaplains learning how to minister to Airmen and meet their needs. He has done invocations, preached and given speeches in and around the community.

"He has done a lot for Laughlin," said Chaplain (Maj.) Andrew McIntosh, 47th FTW chaplain. "Invocations, parenting retreats, single Airman dinners and more. The list goes on of the things he has been involved with in the ministry here."

For Walker, Laughlin has been the perfect place to gain a better understanding of the responsibilities the Air Force may ask of him in the future as a chaplain.

"I've been to Air Combat Command bases, which have a different mission and challenges, but Air Education and Training Command has its own culture," said Walker. "Here at Laughlin and the rest of AETC, the mission is about mentorship, everyone is learning something, both instructors and students and everyone in between."

According to Walker, Laughlin is the definition of discipleship.

"You learn by doing your best, and this base does it the best, discipleship is big here," said Walker. "Here, if you need to know something people will stop what they are doing and show you. I learned the value of people here and the importance of what people do. As a reservist in training, I don't get to see that a lot. Getting to see the mission here, the duties Airmen have, learning about their families and what it's like living in a remote place like Laughlin has been great."

As his time here comes to an end, Walker's experience has made him more determined than ever to serve the country and his faith in the Air Force.

"The program goes by so quick," said Walker. "Just when you think you know people you are gone. Here at Laughlin I can recognize people and I got to know them and spend time with them while being here, but it is good moving around because it forces you to put yourself out there and stick your neck out. I definitely want to stay in the Air Force, because I bleed blue."

Friday, June 20, 2014

Toasting to successful public speaking

by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Rutledge

6/20/2014 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- One way to become a confident and skilled public speaker is through repetition. The Fussa Speakers Toastmasters Club gives its members exactly that -- plenty of practice.

For 40 years, the club has been strengthening its members' public speaking and leadership skills in a no-pressure, non-retribution atmosphere. It continues this tradition at 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. every 2nd and 4th Friday each month at the Yokota Base Library's conference room.

"The FSTC is associated with Toastmasters International, and is one of more than 120 English-speaking clubs throughout Japan," said Mr. Michael Breazell, 374th Communications Squadron resources supervisor and FSTC division governor. "Today, you can't be a good leader without strong communication skills, so our club offers a supportive and fun environment to hone those skills."

The local club is tied directly to Toastmasters International, which has approximately 340,000 members in more than 30,000 clubs and 120 countries.

Breazell said the club could even help advance enlisted and officer military careers. FSTC members are often requested to speak at events such as commander's calls and briefings, allowing for experience-gaining opportunities.

"The FSTC has helped me a lot since I first joined in 2013," said Thomas Eaton, FSTC member. "Not only was I enthusiastically welcomed to the group and had the opportunity to fine-tune my public speaking skills, I have also competed in two international speech contests against other clubs in the region and that was really exciting!"

The ability to speak clearly and confidently can help propel military members to the next level in their careers. If interested in joining the FSTC, email the organization at fussatoastmasters@gmail.com.

Layers of leadership

By Col. David Chiesa, 71st Medical Group / Published June 19, 2014

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFNS) -- Remember the movie "Captain America?"

The main character tried to join the Army under different names and in different cities, yet he was always denied because of his size and perceived notions about his abilities. This comic book hero eventually overcame his lack of physical attributes, and defeated the greatest threat of World War II -- Hydra.

Our Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, published Air Force Instruction 1-2, "Commander's Responsibilities," May 8. The information contained within it can be described as "back to the basics of leadership." I see these basics embodied with Captain America, a man with many layers. Let's peel back his layers of leadership and explore how we can improve ourselves by following his example and our own AFI.

Picture a room filled with 20 people engaged in a heated discussion. You can see them but they cannot see you. Now pick the leader out of the group. Think about how you would identify the leader. What about him or her stands out to you?

You have preconceived ideas on what a leader should look and act like, what their short comings are and what values they hold.

These are the layers of the leadership. Your strength in each layer determines how successful a leader you will be.

When you first imagined the people in the room, you assigned physical features to each. This is the outer layer of leadership. What is your leader's personal appearance? Imagine how they dress. Think of their body language and posture. Are they well groomed? Do they have good communication skills? Is he or she well-mannered and non-interruptive? In a nutshell, do they look confident?

True leaders have a certain presence about them. If someone does not take good care of themselves, it will be difficult to care for others. Your physical appearance matters. It is the first thing people see.

A picture perfect appearance can mask all the other layers, however, so let's peel it back and expose the more vulnerable aspects of our leader.

Here we find our leader's strengths, weaknesses and blind spots. Everybody has blind spots. They are what others see about you that you do not see about yourself. A true friend, mentor, supervisor or leader will be honest with you about your blind spot. You are making yourself vulnerable, so prepare to be humbled.

Let's peel back another layer to expose his or her character.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: "Watch your thoughts. They become words. Watch your words. They become deeds. Watch your deeds. They become habits. Watch your habits. They become character. Character is everything."

The way you let events affect you impacts your character. Eventually, bitterness will show up as a blind spot or as a blemish in your physical appearance. Work to become better not bitter. Seek assistance if you have circumstances in your life you cannot deal with -- that is a sign of courage.

The core of our perfect leader is unique. He or she understands they were made for a purpose, a unique purpose. And they pursue that purpose with perseverance.

Do you know what your purpose is? Do you understand how unique you are? Take the time to find out what you were meant to do with your life. Set goals and vigorously tackle the obstacles in your way. If you need help, speak to your mentors. They will point you in the right direction.

When Captain America was chosen to become a "super soldier,' he was evaluated on the quality of his character and not on his outward appearance. His inner layers, his core values and his desire to serve his country, drove his new outward appearance. He became the ideal leader.

I challenge each of you to start with your inner core and develop each layer until your outermost layer reflects the qualities inside. Use AFI 1-2 as your guide. Strengthen your layers, and embody the spirit of leaders like Captain America. Have the courage to read it and go "back to the basics."

Monday, June 16, 2014

Women's symposium fosters networking, leadership development

by Staff Sgt. Katie Gar Ward
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

6/13/2014 - NORFOLK, Va. -- The Sea Services Leadership Association hosted the 27th Annual Joint Women's Leadership Symposium in Norfolk, June 12-13, to recognize the strengths and talents of women in the armed forces and discuss the unique aspects of being a female Service member.

More than 800 U.S. and international Service members from all branches attended the two-day event, which featured keynote speakers, an awards luncheon, professional development sessions and service-specific forums.

In conjunction with the conference's theme, "Why Do You Serve?", the guest speakers expanded on aspects of military lifestyle that impact women the most, challenges that are unique to female Service members, as well as lessons from their careers and life experiences.

The first day of the symposium began with opening remarks from retired U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry, Coast Guard director of incident management and preparedness policy. She spoke about the history and evolution of women in the military and government departments.

"We have this amazing country, constitution and history, and women have been a part of it since the Revolutionary War," said Landry. "I realize the struggles of what it means to be a woman in the service, and I have so much respect for the women who came before us."

Landry also offered advice and insight relating to why she chose to serve, and how it relates to women currently serving in the military.

"While you all have various reasons for serving, they are all right reasons," she said. "[But] your reasons will also change and evolve over time, so allow that wonderful evolution. You will look back and see how much you have accomplished, because the military is a great place for lifetime learning."

During her remarks, Landry touched on the various challenges that face women in the armed forces, such as trying to find a perfect balance between home life and work, and encouraged female Service members to accept that sometimes there will be an imbalance.

"Many of you are top achievers -- you wouldn't survive in the military if you weren't, so don't be hard on yourself. Don't dwell on the things that challenge you," she said. "Respect each other's diversity and respect what you all bring to [the military]. We are women in the service, but we are also people in the service with a relevant place in it. As we rest on the shoulders of all those who served before us, we have to thank them, and I also and thank you. Each day you are paying them back through your contributions."

Following the opening guest speakers, Service members attended professional development sessions and informational forums, which focused on financial planning and decision-making strategies, and an also included a session pertaining to the Department of Defense's Sexual Assault Prevention Strategy. The forums fostered many networking opportunities and helped promote a learning environment for future leaders, said Coast Guard Rear Adm. Cari Thomas, chairman of the board for SSLA.

"There is a legacy in leadership. I've been in the Coast Guard since 1980 ... and it's been an amazing 34 years of wearing this uniform. It's my job now to give back to the women who will follow, and that's the purpose of this symposium," she said. "I want them to learn from each other, because we all come from different places and backgrounds, have different thought processes and there's not just one right way to do something."

Thomas also shared what she thinks can be an obstacle for female Service members, which is something she calls the "can't say no gene," an aspect of one's work ethic that can sometimes take away from time with family.

"In our nature [as] wives [and] mothers, we want to love and give compassion, so when we see someone who is hurting or needs help, we want to help them. That's part of what our ethos is," she said. "[But it's] important ... to find flexibility in your family to be able to handle all the vagaries of life. When I put this uniform down, I still want to be married and I still want to be a mom. The work is going to be there afterward, and it's okay to stop work to go home and spend time with your family."

The second day of the symposium was centered around service-specific activities, where members of each branch gathered with their respective services for question and answer sessions, forums and small-group discussions. During the Air Force sessions, participants discussed health tips, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response and retention issues among women in the military.

For U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Monica Alvarado, 633rd Medical Group ophthalmic technician, hearing from women who share similar challenges creates a collaborative environment where she can apply those lessons to help shape her own reasons for serving.

"I serve because I wanted to make a difference in my community and for my children, to show them you can ... do something for the community as well as yourself," she said. "This symposium a simply amazing experience I've never had before. I've learned a lot from [the women] in the different services, their perspectives, their [experiences] and successes, and that even if you go through challenges, you can still be successful."

During the Air Force session, Chief Master Sgt. Trae King, 633rd Air Base Wing command chief, addressed the more than 100 Airmen in attendance, first expressing her experience after attending her first symposium four years ago, where only 30 Airmen were present.

"I left my first year so inspired and encouraged. You represent more than the 100 ladies here today - you represent the whole Air Force," she said. "I've been in 29 years, and when I think of why I serve, it's because of all of you."

King continued, sharing her motivations for joining after coming from humble beginnings. She said her initial goal was to make the rank of master sergeant, but that desire expanded over the course of her career.

"I didn't see women in [higher ranks], I didn't see female generals. I could've gotten out 10 years ago, but the Air Force has changed my entire life," she said. "It's afforded me many opportunities, and allowed me to raise my daughter ... I started going to school. Now I serve because I have the opportunity to lead [women like you] all the time, and [you] encourage and empower me every single day," she said. "When people ask me why I serve, I say, 'well why not?'"

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Difficult force shaping calls made tougher by undeserved 'Firewall 5's'

By Master Sgt. Ethan Peters, 65th Medical Group First Sergeant / Published June 12, 2014

LAJES FIELD, Azores (AFNS) -- I was not a very good Airman in the early days of my Air Force career. I was passably good at my job and very bad at the Air Force.

Here is an actual quote from one of my early Enlisted Performance Reports, "Improved responsibility in off-duty affairs would quickly set this top-notch performer above the rest." Literally translated it says,"Stop being an idiot all the time and you might have a promising future in the Air Force."

Ouch ... harsh, but true, I promise. Luckily for me, my supervisors saw some very-well-hidden potential. They cut me some slack on my EPRs. But did they do the right thing? I'm not sure.

I would not have survived force shaping our Air Force faces currently and in the years to come. Actually, I may have survived, but only because my supervisors were afraid to rate me appropriately. Don't get me wrong. I had some great supervisors early on. They taught me about my shortcomings and what I needed to do to be successful. However, when EPR time came around, they wrote me "4s" and likely slept well thinking I got what I deserved. But did I?

Was I "Above Average?" My record was littered with Letters of Counseling, Letters of Admonition, and Letters of Reprimand, for repeated indiscretions like tardiness, disrespect to superiors and financial struggles. While I may have been a "top-notch performer," I was anything but "Above Average" in the Airman department.

Truthfully reflecting, I desperately "Needed Improvement." So why didn't my supervisors say that on my EPR? They told me as much in counseling and feedback sessions. But they did not want to "hurt my career."

How many times have you heard that? That philosophy is a disservice to our Airmen and our Air Force. Here's why.

A little over two months ago I sat down with my command team to prepare for the upcoming retention boards. We met for eight hours a day for almost a week. We aimed to advise our commander on appropriate completion of the Enlisted Retention Recommendation Forms for 117 Airmen; approximately a full third of our unit. Each one needed a retention recommendation and stratification.

The difficulty of the task became abundantly clear when I reviewed their records. While the very best and very worst Airmen were easily identifiable, nearly 100 Airmen fell somewhere in the middle and all of the records looked identical. That's right, on paper they were all clones of each other because supervisors failed to rate their personnel honestly.

Our job should not have been so difficult. Had supervisors been consistently honest with their subordinates, we could have better made our decisions. However, we were forced to try to read between the lines.

The bottom line is when we rate every Airman the same it becomes increasingly difficult to separate those individuals truly worthy of distinction.

You cannot control what the rest of the Air Force does or how other supervisors rate their subordinates. However, you can control your piece of the Air Force -- your immediate sphere of influence. As long as you provide appropriate guidance, counseling and feedback, you can never "hurt their career."

Give your Airmen the tools they need to succeed and then rate them honestly and accordingly. When you refuse to make the tough calls at your level it merely pushes the decision up the chain, to someone less informed about your Airman. That's not helping anyone.

Make the tough calls, never pass the buck and take care of your piece of the Air Force.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Embrace Exceptional Leadership, Winnefeld Tells NDU Grads

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2014 – The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today encouraged 645 graduates of National Defense University to tackle modern-day global leadership challenges with boldness and caring.

In delivering NDU’s commencement address, Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr. reminded graduates that each of them will confront an ever-changing and complex world from a position of greater responsibility.

Among the national security issues he said graduates will encounter as they embark on their careers are those involving energy and infrastructure, population growth and hunger, water resources and climate change as well as a rapidly changing economic landscape.

As such, Winnefeld challenged them to become people who lead the nation into the future by striving for excellence.

“You arrived here with a set of skills unique to your profession and to part with a significantly refreshed foundation of knowledge,” he said. “If you’re going to lead big organizations through big changes, to breathe new life into ideas that matter, then you’re going to have to continue to broaden yourself in a way that allows you to graft important -- sometimes very different -- expertise onto your own.”

And Winnefeld said, exceptional boldness will convey new ideas through a “reluctant system full of vested interest.”

“I’m constantly reminded that incredibly bright adults will work extremely long hours perfecting fundamentally flawed concepts,” the admiral said. “Someone has to lead them out of this and that would be you.”

Credit also goes to exceptional integrity, and Winnefeld referred to a building on NDU’s campus named for President Dwight D. Eisenhower, one of NDU’s founders and someone who “epitomized the meaning of character.”

“We’ve seen disturbing instances in business, sports, governments and even in corners of our own military that reflect a failure of integrity among both the leaders and the led. No organization can excel for very long without a culture of integrity because culture reflects the collective behavior of the senior leadership.”

He explained that former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Colin Powell once told him that the essence of leadership is holding people to the highest possible standard while taking the best possible care of them.

“America is more than just a nation, it remains an idea about freedom and liberty and there are hard-working young men and women out there … who are willing to risk their lives to keep that idea alive,” Winnefeld said. “Make sure you do your best for them for our nation and for our partners around the world.”

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

There's always help

by Airman 1st Class Meagan K. Schutter
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

6/11/2014 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Resiliency has become a major focus of the Air Force in recent years as leaders across the board discuss the many avenues available for Airmen to seek help, whether social, physical, spiritual or mental, when they need it.

Keeping mentally fit is a constant challenge for Airmen, as long deployments, frequent moves, and living in new places around the globe can lead to extra stress beyond the normal stress of day to day work.

Staff Sgt. Peter Sittinger, 374th Maintenance Squadron precision measurement equipment laboratory craftsman, is an example of how mental fitness is one key component to Airmen resiliency, and how Airmen can get help dealing with the stress in their life.

"I was under a lot of stress at work and I was worried that I would break something if I lost my temper," said Sittinger.

The Air Force has a variety of avenues to help out Airmen who are struggling, whether it's talking to a Chaplin, First Sergeant or getting help from the mental health clinic.

"I realized I had a problem, so I went to mental health and got help," said Sittinger.

When mental stressors become too much to bear it can effect work and debilitate one's physical condition. For some, maintaining physical fitness can relieve some of those stressors.

"Doing pushups during the day helps alleviate some adrenaline that builds up," said Sittinger.

Physical fitness plays a key role in reducing stress and strengthening resiliency, but having support from leadership and co-workers plays a vital role in keeping a healthy mind.

The importance of recognizing the symptoms of overwhelming stress and feeling confident to take action, was highlighted by Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy at the Air Force Association's Air Warfare Symposium and Technology Exposition in Feb.

"Our Airmen are the ultimate weapon system we have, and we need to care for them," Chief Roy said. "Promoting the resiliency culture is the right thing to do for our Airmen, our families, and for the United States Air Force."

According to Sittinger, even as leadership continues to spread the message of resiliency, it's important for members to always remember they are not alone and have help if they need it.

"Just remember, you're not alone," he said. "If you need help, there is no shame or reprimand for getting help."

Master Sgt. Amaani Lyle, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs, contributed to this story.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

DIWG: Ensures every Airman is heard, can participate

by Staff Sgt. Amber R. Kelly-Herard
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

6/5/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- In 1986 Airman Basic Bridget Lanier arrived at Royal Air Force Station Greenham Common, England, as one of only two females in the 501st Tactical Missile Maintenance Squadron Munitions Operations as a munitions supply clerk.

In 2006, she became the first African-American female chief master sergeant in the Equal Opportunity career field.

"Born a sharecropper's daughter in a small town in Georgia, getting indoor plumbing at the age of 10, and being a target of society's cultural insensitivities were humbling life experiences for me," said Lanier, who now works as the Air Mobility Command Human Relations and Workforce Diversity Branch chief.

Lanier, along with a group of command staff functionals, works on the AMC Diversity and Inclusion Working Group to support leaders in developing and maintaining a culture of dignity and respect that not only allows for each individual's voice to be heard, but encourages and rewards individuals to participate.

The group was created in response to Executive Order 13583, issued by President Obama in 2011, establishing a coordinated government-wide initiative to promote diversity and inclusion in the federal workforce.

"Diversity and inclusion are both important," said Lanier. "Diversity focuses on demographic representation in the workforce. Inclusion is achieved when every Airman - military and civilian - feels they are a valued member of the team."

The DIWG reviewed results of the 2013 Unit Climate Assessment Survey to determine whether all Airman have a similar sense of job satisfaction in the workplace.

"While many groups are having a positive experience in the workplace, it is important to understand the perspectives of all groups of people," said Lanier.

Diversity Champions were also appointed at every AMC installation and geographically separated wing to help commanders manage diversity and inclusion and outreach initiatives at the grass roots level.

"Regardless of your sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity or social status, you are important and can achieve whatever goal you set your mind and heart to accomplish," said Lanier.

"All airmen (officer, enlisted and civilians) strive to make a difference, contribute, and be heard. We treat each other with respect, mentor and care for each other along our careers, and each of us will feel like a valued Air Force team member, or, most importantly, part of the Air Force family," said Lt. Col. Maureen Robinson, AMC Diversity action officer.

Lanier concluded, "DIWG will continue to guide efforts in making AMC the premier command in creating and sustaining a high-performing workforce that embraces diversity and empowers Total Force personnel to achieve their full potential."

Leadership Lecture Series: Medal of Honor recipient shares story with SJ Airmen

by Airman 1st Class Shawna L. Keyes
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

6/5/2014 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FOCE BASE, NORTH CAROLINA  -- "Warrior is a word we often say in the military, but today that word holds a very special meaning," said Col. Jeannie Leavitt, 4th Fighter Wing commander as she introduced Walter "Joe" Marm Jr. to the stage.

"Our guest speaker embodies the very spirit of the warrior," she added. "A person who has shown great vigor and courage under duress; a true leader.

Marm, a retired U.S. Army colonel and Medal of Honor recipient, spoke to Team Seymour May 28, as part of the 4th Fighter Wing Commander's Leadership Lecture Series at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.

The series began in April 2013, as a forum for Airmen to interact with and learn leadership skills from senior leaders and influential people in the military and community. In the past, the series featured guest speakers such as Leonard Hunter, a Tuskegee Airman, David Randall, a leadership professor, and Simon Sinek, a visionary thinker and innovational speaker.

Marm spoke to those in attendance about his combat experience during the Vietnam War and the circumstances that led him to receive the Medal of Honor, the military's highest decoration.

"It's very humbling to talk and listen to a recipient of the Medal of Honor," said Capt. Nick Jurewicz, 4th Fighter Wing executive officer. "Hearing his stories and the reflections of his past experiences in Vietnam first-hand, were really breathtaking."

He commissioned in the Army in 1965 and quickly found himself shipped out to Vietnam.

During his time in Vietnam, Marm, was assigned as a platoon leader in the 1st Cavalry Division. One day, his company was assigned to relieve a friendly unit surrounded by enemy forces.

Realizing the plight of his platoon, Marm deliberately exposed himself to heavy fire while ordering his unit to retreat.

"It was one of the first major battles of the Vietnam War," said Marm. "We went in with one battalion of 450 soldiers, and we were surrounded and out numbered. However, I was determined to make sure we left that fight with close to as many people as I arrived with."

Disregarding the intense fire directed at him, he hurled grenades into the enemy position. Although severely wounded, and armed with only one rifle, Marm continued his assault and killed the remainder of the enemy. The enemy assault would later be titled the Battle of la Drang. His selfless actions reduced the fire on his platoon, broke the enemy assault, and rallied his unit to continue accomplishing the mission.

"It was a pretty tough fire fight," said Marm. "We were out-numbered 3,000 to 450.

Marm was awarded the Medal of Honor, nearly 13 months later by then Secretary of the Army Stanley Resor.

During the lecture, Marm also characterized the theme of his displayed leadership as 'lead by example' mentality.

He encouraged Airmen to always act and present themselves as they would like those under their command to. He went on to mention how those around him influenced his accomplishments in Vietnam.

"I remember one of my superiors telling the soldiers under him that he would be the first one in and the last one out in a battle," Marm said. "I was in awe of how he devoted himself fully to his men. I later adopted that same type of leadership mentality. That way of thinking is probably what led to the actions I took on that day in Vietnam."

At the conclusion of the lecture, Leavitt presented Marm with a Team Seymour plaque. Airmen were also able to greet Marm and share their own personal stories with him.

"Meeting a Medal of Honor recipient is a rare occurrence," Jurewicz said. "This is probably a once in a lifetime event. I plan to take everything I learned today and apply it to my own leadership skills. It's not every day that you get an opportunity to learn from one of the best."