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McConnell bids farewell to 22nd ARW vice commander

  • Published
  • By Public Affairs staff
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing
Col. Thomas H. Smith, Jr., former 22nd Air Refueling Wing vice commander, departed McConnell, May 28, for his new assignment as the commander of the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing, Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan.

Colonel Smith has served the Air Force for 23 years and was the 22nd ARW's vice commander for more than a year. His wife, Elizabeth, daughter, Cameron, 19, and son, Forrest, 15, will reside in Virginia while he fulfils his assignment in Kyrgyzstan.

Before he departed, the colonel left behind a few thoughts on the wing's accomplishments during his time here as vice commander, and he offered some leadership advice.

What are the greatest things the wing accomplished under your tenure as vice commander?
It performed superbly during nine major inspections in a four-month time period. This includes receiving an "Excellent" rating on Air Mobility Command Inspector General's Unit Compliance Inspection, during which the AMC IG implemented the "toughest emergency management exercise scenario to date." An Aircrew standard evaluation visit was lauded "best seen in 3 years" with "outstanding crews." And, the wing received its best results ever during an Environmental Occupational Health Compliance Assessment with 50 percent less findings and no violations. Additionally, the wing executed its largest generation exercise in 20 years and hosted the first Russian Open Skies visit since 2004. The wing also maintained a perfect safety record as AMC's busiest, most diverse super-tanker wing while flying in the heart of the Air Capitol of the World.

What is the best leadership advice you have to offer?
Most importantly, always lead by example. Additionally, I encourage Airmen to live by the Air Force Core Values. In general, I advise Airmen to work hard at maintaining balance in their lives -- physical, spiritual, mental, social, financial, professional and charitable. Specifically, I advise Airmen to be experts in their primary jobs, keep themselves physically fit, continue their formal education, and volunteer their time and talents to people who can benefit from them.

What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
The best leadership lessons are made by actions, not words. Remember, this can work both ways; you will learn valuable lessons from great leaders and also from poor leaders.