172nd Command Teams Embodies Commitment to Servant Leadership

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jared Bounds
  • 172nd Airlift Wing

Fifteen commanders, along with five command chief master sergeants (all past and present), gathered at the 172nd Airlift Wing to serve lunch to Airmen and full-time staff, setting an example and magnifying the impact of servant leadership, on April 6, 2022.

The practice of key leaders serving meals is nothing new, but Chief Master Sgt. John Myers, command chief master sergeant of the 172nd AW, said the nature of this particular occasion was nothing short of extraordinary. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my 25 years of service,” he said.

Six major generals, four brigadier generals, five colonels and five command chiefs united to prepare and serve hot barbecue to nearly 500 people. While the former commanders and chiefs spent a brief time fellowshipping, they quickly set to work organizing the logistics.

Maj. Gen. Barry A. Blanchard, Assistant Adjutant General, commander, Mississippi Air National Guard, and 172nd AW commander from 2015 to 2018, said the significance of the event could not be overstated.

“It lets some of the Airmen meet some of these legacy commanders who laid the foundation for what’s happening here today,” said Blanchard. “At the same time, it lets the previous commanders meet the current Airmen who are continuing on their legacy.”

“This wing would not be where we are now without the leadership of those men who were working in that kitchen today,” said Myers. He credited the 172nd AW’s current global impact to forerunning leadership and their deliberate choices to build and nurture effective teams. “Strategic bench-building, that’s what it is; not happenstance or hope,” he said. “Hope is absolutely not a strategy.”

Col. Lynn E. Cole, 172nd AW vice commander, described the event as a testimony to the Wing’s long-standing philosophy of servant leadership.

“For these commanders and chiefs who came out here, ‘servant leader’ isn’t just a label; it’s an action,” said Cole, who has served under the last 15 commanders. He said that the example set by those previous command teams influenced his own leadership mantra: “if I can make sure those below me, and above me, are successful, then I can’t help but be successful.”

Col. Britt A. Watson, 172nd AW commander, drew the gravity of the event into sharp focus.

“Some of those men have been commanders of the Mississippi Air National Guard,” Watson emphasized. “The fact that those former commanders, generals, colonels and command chiefs were willing, even eager to come and serve, speaks to their character and to the character of this Wing.”

The 172nd AW has gone through decades of refinement since its establishment in 1953. Today, the Wing operates the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, providing world-class airlift capabilities across the globe, improving combat capability in defense of the nation and in support of the state of Mississippi.