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  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Timothy White
  • Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command



As I round the final lap of my career, I’ve taken a moment to reflect on the things that have helped me stay the course for nearly 33 years. Family, friends, an oath and commitment to serve, and a sincere desire to give back regardless of how tiring the journey has been all come to mind.

There is no one thing that helps any of us stay the course. But no matter what the situation, we all need a wingman. A wingman will encourage you, give you honest feedback when you need it and can help you overcome challenges that may seem insurmountable. I can think of no better wingman to have faced some of the most significant challenges of my career with than Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee.

As he also runs the final lap of a long and distinguished career, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the sacrifice, the leadership and the friendship he and Janis have extended to me, Edith and our entire family.
From the moment Lt. Gen. Scobee and I took the seat, we faced one challenge after the other – the types of challenges that, if you’re not careful, will keep you up at night. Fiscal restraints, natural disasters, racial and political divides, civil unrest, a pandemic, the expeditious withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the current war in Ukraine have all taken place during our time in these seats. You name it, we faced it. Although we worried, we never panicked. We did what those whom we were entrusted to lead expect of us when disaster or adversity strikes. … we continued to lead.

I’m often asked what keeps me up at night. Prior to assuming this seat, I had prided myself in being able to sleep well at night, regardless of world events. In actuality, I’ve had more than a few sleepless nights over the past few years worrying about global events. The truth of the matter is, many senior DoD and military leaders do the same because we are fully informed about the threats America faces – the type of threats most Americans are unaware exist. The one thing I have never had to worry about is the ability to do the job I was hired to do because I understand what is it stake, and I have always known that my wingman, Lt. Gen. Scobee, had my back.

I’ve seen a significant cultural shift in how the senior enlisted force is viewed, valued and empowered through the Air Force Reserve simply because of the tone Lt. Gen. Scobee and I deliberately set. This shift has allowed us to move the ball down the field further and faster than any other time during my 33-year career. The United States Air Force is the premier air power in the world, and the Air Force Reserve is well poised, well postured and well prepared to defend this country against any foe who wishes us harm.

Never underestimate the power of a wingman. Never underestimate the power you yield by empowering or supporting someone else. Having an authority to make a decision doesn’t mean you will automatically make the right decision, so don’t ever pass up an opportunity to seek the council or opinion of someone else – up, down or across the chain. My wingman has sought my council and advice on countless occasions, not because he needed it, but because he valued it.

Work, personal and professional relationships, finances, kids – life has a way of throwing curve balls when you are least expecting it. Remember that none of us have to face these hard times without a wingman. Sometimes it seems more expeditious to go alone, but we will always go further together. When challenges and adversity strikes, make sure you have someone in your corner who has your six. Make sure you have a wingman.