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Robinsons bid farewell to Showcase Wing

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Mark Sulaica
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

After two years of organizing the 375th Air Mobility Wing into a “Combat Ready, Showcase Worthy” machine, Col. Chris Robinson and his wife, Stephanie, bid a heartfelt farewell as they head to Washington, D.C., for their next assignment.

A change of command ceremony will be held July 14 where he will relinquish command to Col. John Poole, who arrives from his previous assignment at Dyess AFB, Texas, currently serving as commander of the 317th Operation Group.

  As the Robinsons prepare to leave, he said that Team Scott has left a lasting mark on the entire family and one word to describe their feelings is grateful.

“That would be the one word that very few people get to say. We have amazing Airmen, and we have a tremendous mission set … and there’s nothing that has happened globally in the last two years where this wing hasn’t had some type of role.”

The wing’s involvement in significant events such as Operation Allies Refuge and Operation Allies Welcome, as well as providing critical assistance to Ukraine during the Russian invasion are just a few. He emphasized the unique capabilities of Air Mobility Command to project power worldwide and sustain it: “No one else can do what we do.”

Additionally, the wing’s innovation efforts such as the Scott Pass and a drone flying program gives time back to Airmen and offers an additional layer of safety by assessing situations before putting personnel at risk. For example, drones were used during the airshow to assess crowd counts, acquire footage, and look for security concerns. While having these devices is interesting, Robinson said it’s how the Airmen will harness their potential that is truly exciting.  

Stephanie said she is grateful for being part of the Airmen’s lives, celebrating their promotions, accomplishments, challenges, and moments of happiness.

“Looking at what some of our Airmen and their families accomplish is so impressive, and I’m just so thankful for the chance to be associated with that. It really has been a special experience.”

Two of those special experiences include the Air Force’s 75th anniversary ball and the airshow because of the ways the base reconnected with the community. Though these two events were a tremendous amount of work, Robinson said the pay off was well worth it: “if you give Scott AFB Airmen a task, they will set high standards and exceed them.”

Stephanie added that “it just made you feel like you were part of something bigger than yourself. Everybody came together and did their thing … and created something amazing. It’s just so cool to be a part of it.”

Even in times of sadness and loss, the way Airmen responded to each other made him proud to lead them. Reflecting on the loss of Col. Zach Hall and Lt. Col. Peter Dell’Accio, Robinson said that “watching the families go through that was incredibly sad, but witnessing the community rally around them, our Airmen taking care of one another, our honor guard fulfilling their duties and command teams springing into action … was remarkable. The local community put out hundreds of flags along Scott Drive, the Highway Patrol provided escort, and our teams lined the roads in the rain to pay their respects. It was truly moving.”

Navigating the demands of military life with family life is hard enough, but being in command of a wing presents its own special challenges. For the Robinsons, they said that keeping their family priorities focused on quality of the time together vs. the amount of time together is how they adapt.

“When we’re with our kids and each other we try to be in the moment. We try to make sure we prioritize the important events. I’ve missed birthdays for example, but we make up for it in other ways. It’s also been important for our family to understand what we’re doing and why, so they don’t think we’re choosing work over them. For us it has worked because our family loves the Air Force life.”

Stephanie agreed that being in the Air Force is a team sport and that even if you don’t have family nearby, you make them with friends and you form your own community—your people. That’s something else she’s thankful for.

They made their community by serving Airmen throughout their time here—from serving at the dining hall for Thanksgiving and Christmas, to manning the gates, and visiting work centers on holidays where everyone else was off.

Robinson said, “I feel a connection to [our Airmen], and I hope they feel the same towards me. It’s because of this flag on our shoulder and the U.S. Air Force name tape on our chest that we are united. We all go through similar experiences, although they may be different based on our unique circumstances and where we are in life. We have all faced trials and tribulations, but also celebrated the highs together.”

His desire for the wing was to be combat ready and he focused on mobility rehearsals, Airmen’s Warrior Courses, numerous training objectives and feels that the wing has responded beyond his expectations. He expressed immense pride in the wing’s readiness and ability to deploy in a moment’s notice to bring rapid global mobility to the joint force and allied partners.

“However, the true test of our readiness will not be determined by us; it will be set by our enemy. Hopefully, they will see our preparedness and be deterred from challenging us.”

He said this success in large part is due to the proactive leadership displayed by NCOs in setting the tone of the culture in their units, and who maintain the day-to-day connections with the Airmen. For example, it was NCOs who prevented instances of suicidal ideations within their ranks, underscoring their vital role in supporting Airmen’s well-being.

“I have spoken to various leaders and NCOs who expressed concerns about being overly involved in people’s lives, fearing they might get in trouble for being nosy. I am glad [our NCOs] were nosy. They sensed something was off when an Airman said everything was OK, even though it wasn’t. They identified the root cause, and those Airmen are still with us.”

Therefore, when he hears someone say, “I’m just an Airman” or “I’m just a staff sergeant,” he is troubled by that because he has been witness to what Airmen of all ranks are capable of.

“We have buildings named after Airmen. There is a Medal of Honor recipient memorialized in the walkway outside my office who was an Airman and accomplished incredible feats. Our Airmen Leadership School Auditorium is named after Senior Airman Smith, a Silver Star recipient for his actions in Afghanistan. Just an airman can be a Medal of Honor recipient, save 100 people, find solutions to problems, and help fellow Airmen with their issues. Leadership matters, and investing in our people matters. We have formal courses such as ALS, the Flight Commanders Course, PME, F-TAC, and others, and they are all important. However, the real difference is made when Airmen genuinely care about each other and put in the effort. I challenge all the leaders in our courses to be the leader they wish they had or to emulate the leaders they admire. It’s easier said than done, but I can confidently say that we have remarkable leaders across this base.”

He said Airmen are also the key to recruiting in order to grow the next generation of leaders and that anytime someone meets his high-performing and motivated Airmen, future recruits are inspired. It’s important they share their stories and continue to serve in their communities and make connections outside the gates.

“This has been a great place to live and raise a family. Our ultimate purpose is to project combat power for the United States of America, and we must excel at it. While there are many nice-to-have things, we must prioritize the essential tasks first. I encourage everyone to continuously remind themselves of our organization’s purpose and function. As long as we stay committed to that and take care of one another, there is no enemy in the world that can match us. We will remain far ahead of them, leaving them unable to catch up. Let's ensure that gap never closes.”