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375th OSS CC reflects on heritage, learning leadership from late war chief grandfather

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Tara Stetler
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Lt. Col. Maureen Trujillo-Andree, the 375th Operations Support Squadron commander, is Native American and has learned to balance military life with traditional customs and values.

She grew up on the Cochiti Pueblo reservation in New Mexico until the seventh grade when she left to pursue an education at a nearby boarding school. Her ambitious spirit eventually led her to become Cochiti’s first commissioned officer in 2002.

Balancing military and Native American life can be a challenge, she explained.

“I’m not home all the time, however, I do try to stay close to everything that I was taught growing up. It’s those daily things that I was taught to do from a very young age such as getting up and saying a morning prayer, doing the same thing before bed, and speaking in my native language when I have the opportunity.”

Preserving her culture is not only important to her personal identity, but also to her leadership style, which is guided in part by the servant leadership style that she learned in Cochiti and from her late grandfather, Leonard Trujillo.

He led their tribe as war chief, governor, and lieutenant governor, and she said he was the epitome of a servant leader.

“Growing up, I saw the sacrifices that my grandfather had to make. A good leader will do those types of things without thinking twice.”

Trujillo also said her grandfather was her biggest supporter. As she advanced in her military career, he was there to pin on all of her ranks.

Before he passed away in August, Trujillo’s grandfather was able to share her most recent accomplishment: taking command of OSS.

In the short four months that she has been commander, her colleagues have taken notice of her service-style leadership.

Col. James Young, chief of the Commander’s Action Group, said, “Lt. Col. Trujillo-Andree brings focus and drive to her career, and she does it with grace, humility and the demeanor of a servant leader.”

Showcasing this leadership style, Trujillo said one of her biggest motivators as a commander is the desire to take care of her Airmen.

“Now in this position, I’m just trying to do the best that I can to support our Airmen and give them opportunities that they deserve.”

Her success story has now paved the way for more people of Cochiti to join the military.

“Being a member of the Air Force is something I’m proud of because it’s encouraged other people from my tribe to join not only the Air Force, but other branches of the military,” said Trujillo.