SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. --
For a 26-year-old Leon Calloway, joining the Air Force was a way to provide for his growing family and move out of a bad neighborhood for a “fresh start.”
He’d been working two jobs in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and “finally got tired of the grind.”
“The neighborhood we lived in wasn’t the best,” he said. “It was infested with drugs, crime, and shootings. [The Air Force] was really our opportunity to get out of a bad situation and create a fresh start for our family.”
It’s been 22 years since that decision, and that fresh start turned into a career where he achieved the highest enlisted rank—that of Chief Master Sergeant, and now serves as the 375th Air Mobility Wing’s newest command chief.
He arrived here with his wife, Crystal, after serving as a command chief for the 22nd Air Refueling Wing at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.
His dedication to service is reflected in his family, who he says are best described as “servant leaders.” Both his wife, Crystal, and his second daughter, Olivia, are involved with social work, while his oldest daughter, Cree, is heavily involved in missionary work.
“And my son, Courtney, will basically give you the shirt off his back. He’s special needs, and he’s very caring and loving toward others,” said Calloway. “My youngest, Briana, is serving her country, which less than one percent of Americans do.”
Briana just graduated from basic training, and Calloway said watching her graduate was the highlight of his Air Force experience.
“I was just in awe of everything that I know she went through to get there,” said Calloway. “I remember what basic training was like. Any slight mistake is costly, and she overcame all of that. I think it made our relationship a little bit stronger because now we have that bond between us.”
Calloway said he’s managed to foster a close relationship with his family while in the service by following Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright’s “2-10-5-7” philosophy. This philosophy helps Airmen plan out their days, suggesting they spend two hours on self-care, 10 hours at work, five hours with friends and family and seven hours sleeping.
“It sets a target for me,” said Calloway. “If I get out of here in 10 hours, I know I’m close to right. If it’s 12 or 13 hours and I’m still at work, I know I’m off and I’ve got to make some corrections. It fluctuates from day to day, but it has helped me.”
Calloway said the 10 hours devoted to work should be focused on being the best you can be on the job, and part of this involves working to develop yourself as a leader.
“You have to ask yourself, ‘Is what I’m doing and saying having a positive influence on those around me? Am I motivating them to be better with my actions and words? Do I view others as I would view myself?’ If so, then you are [encouraging] them to be their very best.”
Calloway said Airmen at Scott AFB can also expect his leadership style to be inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King’s quote: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’”
“I use that as my motivation when I’m feeling the ‘me, me, me’ mindset,” said Calloway. “That encourages me to say ‘Hey, if I can get out today and just positively influence one Airman’s life or one person’s life, then it’s worth it.’”
He said the most enjoyable part of settling into the Scott AFB community in the past month has been getting to know the Airmen.
“To me, every location is always about the Airmen and the people you meet. It’s about relationships, relationship-building, and fostering relationships. Different locations have different missions, but the lasting memories are always with the people you meet.”