New command chief faces fresh challenges with basic approach: 'know your Airmen'
By Airman 1st Class Benjamin D. Kim, 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 12, 2013
HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. --
The 25 years of experience did not show as wrinkles or weathered skin or in a jaded, intimidating demeanor. Rather, it was a warm smile and firm handshake that set a welcoming tone, showing the essence of what Chief Master Sgt. Jeffery Maberry, command chief of 1st Special Operations Wing, is all about: getting to truly know his Airmen.
Maberry started his new tenure as first-time command chief for the 1st SOW at Hurlburt Field, Fla., in January. He may be new to this job, but Maberry has gradually built a résumé during a long and diverse career, including a third of his enlisted time as a first sergeant working intimately with Airmen.
"On the personal level, I'm about knowing Airmen--making sure we're taking care of Airmen," Maberry said. "A lot of that is just the first sergeant background in me, in engaging our Airmen and our families as well. I think the families are very important, especially with the most deployed wing in the Air Force, in reaching out and really touching those people."
Maberry believed that his comfort with working with different Airmen stemed from strong exposure to different facets of the Air Force.
"I think one of the biggest attributes I have is kind of an understanding," he said. "Throughout my 25-year career I've been in the maintenance group, medical group, operations group, mission support group and being a first sergeant. The experience really gave me a broad spectrum view of what all the groups are responsible for and how that all meshes together in one big picture to make this mission happen."
The emphasis on having a deep, personal connection with his Airmen is a mantra built from a painful incident. Maberry recalled the grim experience as a first sergeant that left an indelible mark on him and ultimately changed the way he approached taking care of Airmen.
"This comes from personal experience of me of thinking I know my Airmen," he said. "In 2004, when I was a first sergeant we lost an Airman. I felt very confident that I was very good at what I did. I felt like I really knew the Airman--then we ended up losing him; he ended up committing suicide."
Instead of letting a dark situation negatively dwell in his mind, he let it positively alter his point of view.
"I thought I knew my Airmen, but I realized you really have to dig down deep," he said. "You have to ask those tougher questions, you have to sometimes get to a point that's uncomfortable with people to really know what's important to them. I think that's at the core of any foundation we build the supervisors, is sitting down and knowing your Airman."
The core of his experiences accentuated one big point.
"Truly, Airmen make the mission happen," he said.
Despite the wealth of experience and knowledge Maberry brings with him, he understands that the task ahead of him is no small feat.
"I am extremely proud of [the Airmen] and all they do each and every day," he said. "This is the most deployed wing in the Air Force, it's the sixth-largest wing in the Air Force, and the Airmen just make me so proud."
While Maberry holds an enlisted position in the Air Force that is occupied by an extremely small and elite group of people, he still holds basic values that carried him through till this day and for years to follow.
"My big thing is--I can't stress this enough that it means a lot to wear this uniform each and every day and people need to bring energy and passion in all they do," he said.
"Be proud of who you are, be proud of our heritage. I'm really looking forward to working with each and every body in this wing."