By Monica Mendoza
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Col. Jeffrey Flewelling, 21st Space Wing vice commander, is knocked out by the 21st Space Wing.
“It’s such a magnificent unit,” he said. “Everyone should be proud they are working and serving here at the 21st.”
Colonel Flewelling comes to Peterson Air Force Base from Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., where he served as the Commander’s Action Group director. This is his second assignment on Peterson AFB. He was stationed at Headquarters Air Force Space Command from 1998 to 2000.
As Colonel Flewelling settles into his new role as 21st SW vice commander, he said he cannot help but be impressed by the wing and the scope of its mission. The 21st SW is the Air Force’s largest wing geographically and organizationally. Spanning the globe, the 21st SW provides missile warning and space control for combat forces and the national command authorities of the United States and Canada.
“The responsibilities that we have, makes us stand out right away,” he said. “The 21st Space Wing has an incredible mission, incredible systems and we put the best people in charge of them — just fantastic.”
He described his role as vice commander as executing the mission and carrying out the priorities of Col. Chris Crawford, the new 21st SW commander. But, he also sees his job as getting to know Airmen and their families.
“I want to know everyone’s families and get to know what’s going on because it’s not just the person in uniform that serves, it’s the kids, it’s the parents, it’s the entire team.”
Colonel Flewelling is married with three children. He joined the Air Force in 1989. He loves to watch his children at their sporting events and when he has some spare time he enjoys fly fishing or duck hunting with his golden retriever.
Colonel Flewelling answered a few questions so that Airmen can get to know him.
Why did you join the Air Force?
I joined because I always wanted to be part of the military, wanted to do something big. I had some relatives do that. It felt right. I have not been disappointed.
Why did you stay in the military?
I talked to Airmen Leadership School a few weeks ago and really, from the bottom of my heart, profusely thanked them. These are the Airmen who are going to be frontline supervisors in our units — they all volunteered in a time of continuous war for the last 19 years of the Air Force with shrinking budgets and shrinking manpower — and they joined up and volunteered to sacrifice everything to serve their nation. It’s that kind of spirit and attitude that you want to be around; you want to be associated with that caliber of people. Why do I stay in the Air Force? Because, I get to work with those Airmen.
What is your most memorable moment in the Air Force?
There are tons of memorable moments. Certainly, all three of my children have been born in Air Force or Army hospitals and I’ve had a great time watching them be part of the extended Air Force.
I was a squadron commander (from 2006 to 2008) at Vandenberg Air Force Base, 392nd Training Squadron, we worked hard for this inspection and we received the highest inspection rating that the unit received in the last six or seven years. Coming out of that brief and hearing people talk in the hallways and high fiving each other, that was one of my proudest moments as far as mission accomplishment.
What is your approach to leadership?
I’m a mission guy. No. 1, we’ve got to get the mission done. No. 2, I firmly believe you’ve got to know what is going on behind the person with their families. I really try and make it a point to get around and structure stuff toward family.
I found over the years, that if the families are taken care of they are going to take care of their folks. We say that, it’s a lot harder to do that. So, I try to make it point to really know people.
The moment I walk into a meeting, the moment I come to work every morning, I implicitly — and I’ve been taught this by senior mentors — I trust everyone who comes to see me. It’s huge. It’s because of the quality of people we have here. I trust everyone 100 percent that they are telling me the truth. We have too much to do, not enough time to do it, not enough resources to do it, but somehow every day we get it done. And, the only way we do that is having trust up and down the chain.
What is your message to Airmen?
I have four central messages: Execute the mission. Lead from the front now! We just don’t have time to get people up to speed — they need to lead now. And we have to understand our Airmen.
I lastly want to stress that people should feel good and immensely proud of working at the 21st Space Wing. It’s a flagship wing. Very few bases have the support and mission responsibilities that we do. You have got to be proud of knowing that when you work at the 21st Space Wing, you’ve taken on a huge challenge. You’ve chosen a tough duty and I don’t think you would want it any other way. Give me the hardest job, the one that involves the most work and watching our Airmen come through the door every day and say, ‘yeah, I can do that.’ That’s pretty cool.