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Building a Culture of Responsible Choices

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Darren McDew
  • 43rd Airlift Wing commander
Our deployment season is again upon us, and I would like to speak to those who are remaining at Pope and to those who are taking over leadership positions. I want to focus on expeditionary leadership at home. When the commander or supervisor leaves, there is a void. It is your responsibility to take care of yourself, your organization, the families of deployed personnel and the mission.

Set goals and establish a better mark for yourself. What will you accomplish during your mantle of leadership, for you?

Your responsibility to your organization as the acting commander or supervisor is to further the vision set by your leader and make it better.

Take care of your organization’s families. Really get in and understand what the families’ needs are. If they tell you, “I don’t need anything,” they don’t mean it. It’s one way of coping with the absence of their loved one. Often, we don’t know how to handle the separation. Find out what they need and make sure they have whatever they need to ease the absence.

I want to thank Senior Master Sgt. Jeffrey Douglas and Master Sgt. Ronnie Sturgill, 43rd Logistics Readiness Squadron for being the model expeditionary leaders in garrison. During the absence of their officer leadership, Sgts. Douglas and Sturgill looked to make their organization’s vision better and raised the Vehicle In-Commission rate from 80 to 90 percent.

While at Pope this summer, I want each of you to focus on safety and on being a dependable wingman. Deaths occur during war, and we may lose some of our comrades. But, I won’t accept deaths in garrison. Some people say that statistically, one or two fatalities per year is an accepted number, but not to me. I will never accept it. Airmen die every year during the 101 Critical Days of Summer, and AMC’s five deaths last year were all preventable. It all boils down to making good decisions.

Beginning this summer, we are changing our base culture to one of responsible choices and mutual respect. Every choice you make has consequences. Take responsibility and accountability whenever you choose an activity. Make reasoned choices, which you are unable to do if you abuse alcohol.

Our ultimate goal is zero alcohol-related incidents and zero drug-related incidents. If you see your fellow Airmen getting ready to do something that will harm themselves or others, stop them. As a wingman, you often must help your comrade make the right choice. If your friend and fellow Airman approaches you to help, be receptive to that help. If you treat them disrespectfully and don’t accept help when needed, they won’t want to come to your aid. But, a good wingman is persistent. It’s up to us to let them know they are in trouble and to keep them from making a bad choice. That includes alcohol abuse, illegal drug use, and driving without getting proper rest. Don’t ever let your wingman down.

Lastly, I would like to thank Capts. Lashonna Wood, 43rd Services Squadron, and Jannell MacAulay, 43rd Airlift Wing, and their staffs for putting together a tremendous Wingman Day and helping to promote our new Culture of Responsible Choices.