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The Mighty Eighth through the eyes of a command chief

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Luke Hill
  • 8th Air Force Public Affairs

Waking up at 0430, having a day so full of appointments that you must choose which ones to go to, giving speeches off-the-cuff, mentoring and encouraging subordinates, working after hours, and having the responsibility of making big decisions, both operationally and organizationally. These are all part of an average day for our  Eighth Air Force command chief Melvina Smith. How do I know you may ask? Well, I had the unique opportunity to shadow our senior enlisted leader for a day.

The first thing I noticed as I began to shadow Chief Smith was that we were non-stop all day long. Up the stairs, down the stairs, meeting this Airmen, mentoring that one, going to this meeting only to rush to another engagement. There’s no doubt that Chief Smith earns her keep every day and sacrifices a lot for our Air Force.

While shadowing the chief may seem like an exhausting day, I hardly noticed it as I found myself fascinated by being able to see the Air Force through the eyes of a command chief. Seeing how all the different units make one big team and to see how their roles fit into the Mighty Eighth’s mission was very powerful.

It can be very easy to get down on ourselves when we’re swamped with work and sometimes it feels very mundane. Are we actually making a difference? Is what I do even important? Do I actual play an active role in the defense of our nation? Obviously we hear our leadership tell us all the time how important we are and how invaluable our work is to the mission but would they ever tell us anything different? I mean that’s what they’re supposed to say right?

While I can’t speak for everyone, I know that I felt super proud as I got to visit different units, and I saw for myself how all the pieces fit together. There’s no doubt in my mind now that my job as well as everyone else’s within Eighth Air Force is critical to overall mission success.

Something else that struck me was the character of our Airmen at the Mighty Eighth. This really isn’t anything new that I learned. I have always told my wife that one of the best parts of working for the Air Force is that  everyone is honest, hardworking, and wants to do what’s right. However, it was still encouraging to have that belief re-affirmed.

Also during the course of the day, I was able to attend the Airpower Leadership Academy, a mentorship program designed to amplify quality leadership within the Air Force. My first thought when I heard I would be attending ALA was, “boring!” Here we go with another professional development seminar. Oh Lord I should have brought a pillow. Well let’s just say I’m glad I didn’t say those words out loud as I would have had to end up eating them because it turns out ALA was fascinating! It wasn’t a tightly structured class centered on reading from a professional development guide, but instead was more philosophical in its nature. The topics discussed were not only interesting but useful for all areas of life.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed shadowing Chief Smith for a day. It was extremely encouraging to see the Mighty Eighth in action. It gave me a greater appreciation for the work that myself and others do here, and I’m super grateful that I had the opportunity. I hope that as others read about this experience that they will be encouraged too and can be proud of being a part of an awesome team here at the Mighty Eighth.