Recognize your people

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Robert T. Daniel
  • 82nd Reconnaissance Squadron commander
As I prepared to take command of the 82nd Reconnaissance Squadron at Kadena AB in Okinawa, Japan, I tried to arm myself with as much advice and as many ideas as I could in order to help ensure our squadron's success. One of the best pieces of advice came from the book, "Sharing Success Owning Failure" by Brig. Gen. David L. Goldfein, the director of Air and Space operations for Air Combat Command. In his book, General Goldfein described how important it is for leaders to "celebrate heroes - not machines."

With this in mind, I prepared to research the history of our squadron and recognize those who blazed the trail before us. Luckily, the 82nd RS not only embraces its history, but also celebrates its people. In fact, the 82nd is lucky enough to possess World War II flight logs from pilots of the 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron.

Exactly 65 years prior to the day I assumed command, J.W. Allen entered in his log, "12/10/44: 40th mission. Went on a bomb raid to Kaoe. We bombed the bivouac area with 260lb frag bombs. We then flew down further South and strafed a town. Started three large fires in that area. Didn't get any ack-ack - didn't get close enough to the strip I guess. Franklin ran out of gas coming home from the Celebes today and had to bail out. He was picked up okay though - he was in a P-51."

The 82nd RS also proudly celebrates the achievements of Maj. William A. Shomo, who on Jan. 11, 1945, in the face of a far superior force, shot down seven enemy aircraft in one engagement over the Philippines and was subsequently awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Our squadron also made history in the late 1960s when the aircrews of the 82nd Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron flew daily sorties against Vietnam. The crews not only collected invaluable strategic information, but were instrumental in passing data up the chain of command, which saved the lives of pilots. These Cold War warriors set the standard for future RC-135 Pacific theater operations.

Today's Recce warriors are exemplified every day by professionals such as Senior Airman Andrew M. Krzanowsky, a communications navigator and the 82nd RS' 2009 Airman of the Year. This outstanding maintainer is a part of an amazing team that keeps nearly 50-year-old aircraft airborne and mission ready.

In addition, Staff Sgt. Lechard Jones, a personnel journeyman, who began 2009 as a senior airman, earned Squadron Non-Commissioned Officer of the Quarter by year's end. There's also Staff Sgt. Keith E. Stark, an electronic intelligence analyst, who discovered a software problem with our ELINT data that he meticulously corrected. His efforts were instrumental in providing the most accurate information available to combatant commanders. Finally, Capt. Dave Mills, an instructor navigator, was named the 82nd RS' Company Grade Officer of the Year for his outstanding work as a mission director, theater expert and scheduler.

In our competitive and selective Air Force, ensuring our Airmen are properly recognized is imperative. To be frank, the awards and recognition program can make or break careers. Supervisors must proactively submit their deserving people, which is increasingly difficult when faced with deployments and busy schedules, however, the ends justify the means when your Airmen take home an award or are recognized for their accomplishments.