News | June 3, 2016

Strength in Humility

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

Since February of 2013 Chief Master Sgt. Denny Brown has faithfully served as the 940th Wing command chief.  Before he moves into the next phase of his career, I asked him to share some parting thoughts.

Q: Chief, where are you headed and what are you going to do next?

A: I am taking a couple of steps back in terms of responsibility and time commitment and returning to the 701st Combat Operations Squadron at March Air Reserve Base, California. One of the great advantages of the Air Force Reserve is being able to temporarily step back if you are out of balance with family or home lifeFor me, my civilian job has required more time from me over the last nine months and that has taken me away from my family and from being able to commit the amount of time needed, and that our Airmen deserve here at the 940th.


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

A: The most memorable experience, without a doubt, is my time working in the aeromedical evacuation mission at the start of OIF/OEF. The ability to be so close and see the impact of that mission on those combat wounded members… I consider it one of my greatest successes in the Air Force.  Our team accomplished over 10,000 AE patient movements in 120 days with zero losses.  It was easily the best example I have ever witnessed of a group of individuals coming together as a team to accomplish more than we ever thought possible.


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


A: My first impressions of the 940th began over 20 years ago when I was an active duty Staff Sgt. at McClellan Air Force Base and I helped them with their communications needs during their transition from Mather AFB.  The next time I had the opportunity to work with the 940th was about 10 years later when I would fly AE training flights with them in the KC-135 Stratotanker.  I was always impressed with their professionalism, particularly the pride they had in their KC-135The thing I didn’t know, that I learned only after joining the 940th, was how tough and resilient you all areThrough all the changes in the wing over the years, you remained professional and maintained a level of morale that is hard to believe considering the circumstances.  I have heard this same comment every time we have had a distinguished visitor and it really reflects the amazing people that are in the 940th family.


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

A: It certainly isn’t due to any great amount of work on my part, but standing up the Development and Training Flight would have to be the most significant.  On my first UTA as the Command Chief, I received a call from HQ AFRC wondering when the 940th was going to stand up our D&TF.  I have to admit that I was completely opposed to the program due to the budget crisis we were facing and I saw it as just one more expense the Wing was going to have to deal with.  I could not have been more wrong.  This program pays for itself with the reduction in losses prior to accession to almost zero, but more than that, it sets these future Airmen up for success in the Air Force by making them feel like part of the team and giving them the tools to be successful early in their career. 


My involvement in the D&TF has been little more than selecting the three outstanding program managers we have had.  MSgt Veronica Gomez stood up the flight and in less than a year the 940th went from nothing to one of the best in AFRC.  SSgt Anna Lollock took over and continued to build on the program and did a great job of expanding the cadre of instructors.  Most recently, SSgt Keaton Valdez has taken over and I can already tell the ideas she is implementing will take us to even greater heights.  Well done to all of them.  I cannot thank them enough for helping me see the light on this program and, more importantly, helping to change the lives of your trainees.


Q: What do you hope others will remember about you?


A: That I was a fair and balanced partner with the two wing commanders that I have had the privilege to work for, Col. Kevin Cavanagh and Col. John Trnka, Jr., and that I represented the ideas/issues/concerns of the 940th enlisted force to the best of my ability.


Q: Let’s play a little word association. Feel free to elaborate.

A:     Music: Rock

         Family: Everything

         Airmen: Inspiring

         Leader: Follower, I think the best leaders are those that know when/how to follow.

         Mentor: GOBO – Get One, Be One

         Air Force: The best decision I ever made (I know it is more than one word, but first thing that comes to mind). The Air Force brought me to Sacramento where I met my wife and ultimately blessed me with my daughter.  It provided me the education to be successful in the military and in my civilian job and it has provided lifetime friendships with some truly amazing people.


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


A: There are two points that I stress at every newcomer’s briefing. First, you have to maintain a good balance….family, civilian job, education, and then the Reserve and it is important that your priorities are in that order.  Being a reservist gives you the opportunity to take on more responsibility if you’re are at a point in your life where that makes sense.  There is also the flexibility to throttle back if that is what you and your family need you to do. 

The second thing I discuss is managing your own career.  Make sure you know the requirements to get that next promotion or a new position you might be interested in and check those boxes….PME, TIG, TIS, CCAF, no unexcused abscences, etc.  Your squadron commander cannot even consider you for promotion until those things are accomplished.  Some may think this is not in line with our core value of service before self, but I believe it is just the opposite.  If you learn and implement what it takes to effectively manage your career, you then have the correct tools to mentor those around you and make sure those in your charge are on the correct path.


At the same time, work at a level that is at least one grade higher than what you are wearing.  Finally, make sure your records correctly show that you have done all the above things.  If it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen. 


Q: What’s next for you in your personal life?


A:  Coaching my daughter’s travel softball team.  If you are familiar with travel softball, you will understand that this will consume pretty much all of my personal time.

Chief Brown serves as a prime example of what it means to be a Citizen Airman.  By giving another reservist the opportunity to serve as command chief, he exemplifies leadership, balance and selflessness. We thank you, Chief, for your heartfelt dedication to this wing throughout our many transitions and wish you and your family all the best on your future path.