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Airmen follow chief, become his shadow

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jason Wiese and Airman 1st Class Brandon Valle
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
Each month, the Mighty Ninety command chief selects a junior enlisted Airman to become his shadow for a day to see the duties, challenges and daily tempo of wing-level leaders.

"The Chief's Shadow Program provides an Airman the opportunity to gain a wing-level perspective by spending the day with the Command Chief and the wing leadership team," said Chief Master Sgt. Samuel Couch, 90th Missile Wing command chief.

Accompanying the chief also gives Airmen a perspective on how their particular roles fit into the grand scheme of the wing's mission of defending America with the world's premier combat-ready ICBM force.

"Additionally, they gain a perspective of what their future might look like if they continue to serve in the Air Force and reach higher ranks," Couch said.

Chief enlisted managers within the 90th MW's constituent groups select Airmen based on supervisors' recommendations, he said.

Once selected, Airmen join the chief for a day as he makes his rounds throughout the wing.

"I typically select a day that is going to be very busy to give the Airmen several different experiences throughout the day," Couch said.

The shadow program is also a way for Airmen to receive one-on-one mentorship throughout the day, he said.

"I schedule time with them to discuss the various things they have seen and heard throughout the day and answer any questions that they might have," Couch said. "I learn a lot about the Airmen that participate in the shadow program. I enjoy hearing their stories of why they serve and what their goals are for the future."

Couch said that being able to speak with Airmen from different groups allows the chief to learn about junior enlisted Airmen's concerns throughout the wing, providing insight into how he can bring positive change in the wing.

Airman 1st Class Thomas Gustafson, 90th Medical Operations Squadron public health technician, recently spent the day with Couch and had the opportunity to attend wing meetings, a teleconference with 20th Air Force command chiefs and a change-of-command ceremony.

"My overall experience with the chief was great and for anyone who gets the opportunity I would highly suggest doing it," Gustafson said.

Gustafson said he learned a lot about the big picture of the Mighty Ninety and how a junior enlisted Airman, even in a role as specific as a public health technician, can affect the overall mission.

"What I learned is that everyone's job is important, from airman basic to chief master sergeant," he said. "Even the results of inspections that Airmen did were discussed at meetings where the base commander was involved. Any job, no matter how insignificant, is still highly important."

Couch shared some lasting knowledge that Gustafson said he took to heart.

"My biggest take away from the program was what he told me on how to succeed as an Airman," he said. "He told me to love my job, to become a professional at all aspects of my job and become that go-to guy, and to serve the community."