My top 3 accomplishments as Squadron Commander

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BLUF – Accomplishments aren’t always something you can write down or be repeated out loud, but can be something you carry with you for a lifetime.

As my tour as squadron commander winds down, my boss asked me to share with him my top three accomplishments to help shape his speech during the change of command. You know, the portion of the show where he/she rattles off things about the outgoing commander and sets up the incoming commander to start his/her tour with a bang. I immediately asked him, “I can say whatever I want, right? As in my legit top 3 accomplishments from my perspective?” Since my boss is a good boss, he knows I wasn’t going to share with him an exhaustive list of bullet fodder that has metrics or “first ever” adjectives or awards. Those aren’t accomplishments to me; those are things that happened along the way. My boss replied, “Yes, you can share with me whatever you want.” I could hear his eye roll over the phone, as he knows that I wasn’t necessarily going to help him fill out a portion of the speech, but at minimum give him things that were true to my heart on what I was most proud of during my tour. The following list took me a while to write down in words, but I share them here in their original form.

  1. “Wired Up Fired Up” being embraced – At our 2018 Sq Combat Dining In, I ceremoniously transitioned the unit from the chant of “Five by Five…COMMS HOT LIVE” to “WIRED UP FIRED UP”. We were using WUFU for almost 8 months at PT, but I made the transition official when I burned the old morale shirt (similar to retiring a US flag). We played Taps and everything. The squadron really rallied around the transition and I think the chant is more reflective on how we have unified as a team. We even have the chant on our morale/PT shirt and the new Commander’s Coin!
  2. My squadron isn’t too embarrassed of me (but probably a little) – I’ve had several instances where 673 CS personnel are TDY somewhere and they say “Oh yeah, your commander is Lt Col Avilla! I know him from ______.” When these stories happen, they are a verification that I am in fact one in the same in these stories, and usually a good laugh is included. Or when our squadron members attend Airman Leadership School, Non-commissioned Officer Academy, or even a functional TDY and the people they meet find out they are from CS and they say “Oh…so how do YOU feel about the I-word or R-word?” I still think using #DBAA within the curriculum and the work center is a legit tactic that cuts to the core of how we can all become better leaders. I take my job seriously but I don’t take myself seriously, so I am glad to hear that squadron members don’t try and disclaim me as their commander. They may or may not have the justification to make that decision (see my 6.73 minutes of fame on the Amn/NCO/SNCO page from our last holiday party), but I’m still glad they claim me as their own.
  3. Earning and Keeping my Freedom of Maneuver(Originally titled “Not getting fired”) In all seriousness, I’ve had ups and downs on my personal beliefs during this tour that I’m failing at my job and could legit be fired. I’m not necessarily concerned about saving my career, but more in doing the right thing in serving the men and women I’m charged to lead. During those downs, I’ve leaned on my family first, the multiple tiers of leadership within the squadron, and up the chain (to include the wing commander) for their support and counsel. I’ve utilized helping agency resources to help me work through my doubts and struggles, and I’ve always been greeted with light at the end of the tunnel. My leadership style is definitely unique to me; I often tell the squadron you will never meet another commander like me, nor could the Air Force handle one more of me. Regardless, I’m proud to have served alongside everyone during my tour at JBER and leave as a better leader and officer due to every up and down. I truly hope that I left the squadron and JBER a better place then I found it, and if anyone feels I didn’t…I expect them to find me and hold me accountable.

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