News | June 3, 2016

End of Watch

By Staff Sgt. Brenda Davis 940th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Change brings growth, excitement and new energy, but for some, it also marks the end of a journey. Col. John Trnka, Jr. will join the list of many great former 940th commanders, but before he departs I sat down with him to hear his parting thoughts.

Q:  We’ve heard you’re headed to Texas to stand up a Commander’s Action Group for Maj. Gen. Scobee, 10th Air Force commander.  Can you tell us a little more about what you expect?


A:   My next job will be at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Ft. Worth, or as we used to more easily call it: Carswell AFB.  I’ll be telecommuting from here for a while longer until I leave in early August.  I am going into a bit of an unknown – I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing or what my responsibilities, but I’m looking forward to a different pace.  General Scobee and I have talked about some of the challenges he faces at 10th Air Force and how I might help, but I think we’ll be figuring most of it out as we go along.


Q:  What is one thing you are looking forward to at your new assignment?


A:  I am looking forward to having a little more time.  I have loved this job, but it takes a lot of time.


Q:  Can you tell me about one of your most memorable Air Force experiences?


A:  I have been fortunate to have had so many memorable experiences.  Controlling fighters, bombers and tankers from an AWACS over northern Iraq in the early days of OIF is certainly one. Traveling to Afghanistan to help set up a flight training program for the Afghan Army Air Corps was another, but the memories I cherish are the fun times; jumping off a cliff on a small uninhabited island in Honduras into the ocean, earning a small rock necklace that a teammate carved by hand and painted.  Experiences like that reinforced the camaraderie that comes from doing something different in an exotic location. 


Q:  Looking back, what was your first impression of Beale & 940th?


A:   My first impression of the 940th was that it was a family.  That impression never faded.  The folks in the 940th take care of each better than anywhere I have ever been.  I feel privileged to have been a part of that.


Q:  What do you consider one of your greatest achievements during your time here?


A:   I don’t think about it as my achievement, but one of the things I’m most happy about is through all the changes this unit has faced, most of the folks, most of the time, stayed positive and upbeat, focused on the future.  If I played some small role in that, I would be very proud.


Q:  What do you think others will remember most about you?


A:   That I am the shortest person to command the 940th in at least 10 years.  Other than that, you’ll have to ask them, but I do hope it’s that I treated everyone with respect.


Q:  What advice would you like to share with Airmen?


A:   So much is out of our control, so take care of the things you can control, like job performance, fitness, PME, education, and most importantly, attitude.  If you can concentrate on those things, you’ve done what you can do.  Doesn’t guarantee anything, but it’s a start.


Q:  And since no “Trink-o-Gram” would be complete without a bit of history, what book or movie would you recommend to airmen?


A:   Read “1776” by David McCullough.  It’s the story of the birth of our nation and the sacrifice required to make this experiment in democracy happen.  Don’t worry if you don’t like history – McCullough is an incredible writer.  Read it and then tell me about your bad day – it kind of puts it all into perspective.


Q:  What’s next for you outside of the workplace?


A:   Hopefully to enjoy more time with my wife and daughter and at the end of a tough day, relax, kick my feet up and enjoy a glass of wine, or a beer, and watch the sun set into the sea.


Col Trnka’s efforts and leadership will resonate in the wing for many years to come.  As he moves on to the next chapter of his life, we thank him and his family for their selfless dedication to our wing and the Air Force for so many years.  Best of luck, Sir, on all your journeys…Cheers!