By CMSGT BRIAN P. KRUZELNICK, AMC COMMAND CHIEF
As my family and I rolled through the gate at Scott Air Force Base, IL, on Aug. 1, 2020, the first thought that crossed my mind was, It is good to be home! I am and have always been a Mobility Airman at heart, regardless of my duty position. The flightline was my office, and the world of aircraft generation, my teacher. To say it is an honor and a privilege to become the Air Mobility Command (AMC) Command Chief is a complete understatement and far exceeded any personal expectations.
I came from the mean streets of New Jersey, struggling to survive in the world in which I lived. I lacked basic physical and psychological needs, from shelter to a feeling of belonging. With no other place to go, I found myself at an Air Force recruiter’s office on the recommendation of a friend, Ed Thomas. He spent four years as an active-duty aircraft maintainer and transitioned to the Air National Guard. His insight motivated me to enlist as an aircraft maintainer, and after signing the paperwork, I was in Basic Military Training within a week.
It was hard to correct my undisciplined and unstructured background to meet military expectations, which led me to be a less-than-desired Airman. Living in “survival mode” for so long made me combative and stopped me from developing healthy relationships. Although I did have a strong work ethic, my behavior was not acceptable. In time, however, I found solace in the allure of the flightline, pride in generating aircraft, and small pockets of acceptance in teammates that filled an unconscious void. Within months of arriving at my first duty station, I deployed to support Operation DENY FLIGHT followed by Operation PROVIDE PROMISE, the longest sustained humanitarian airlift in U.S. Air Force history. That is where I witnessed AMC flat out delivering hope to those in need!
I spent my time from Staff Sergeant to Chief in AMC, growing as an Airman and as a person on every flightline around the world. I feel very comfortable leading Mobility Airmen because I had similar experiences and can relate to their trials and tribulations as well as their successes. The strength of this command lies in our people and families, making it imperative to invest in connections.
We need to connect our Airmen to the service they joined, their assigned command and unit, their peers, and us as leaders. For our diverse Airmen to reach their full potential, we need to invest in them and take the time to know and understand their personal stories so they can connect to the rich history of the unit. We all have past experiences—good and bad —from childhood to where we stand today, forming whom we have become. Therefore, we must have patience, empathy, and compassion for our differences and celebrate the individual uniqueness we each bring to the fight.
In our ranks are those driven and meek, strong and vulnerable, carefree and overwhelmed. As leaders, we can decide what matters but never who matters because everyone does. We must have a curious nature to create opportunities to bond with one another.
In current times of inclusion and resilience issues, coupled with the contested environment surrounding COVID-19, connections are more important than ever. AMC specializes in delivering humanitarian relief and global security to those in need worldwide, but we must also look inside our own command for equally needful individuals. We must look internally at our force, take action to improve our unit culture, clearly define our daily purpose, and strengthen our unity. We rise together.
I am not only your AMC Command Chief but also a father and a husband. I strive to treat every AMC Airman just like the individuals living in my house and have a great appreciation, care, and love for all those in our command. No matter what occupational badge you wear, you are important—critical to the mission and valued as a person.
I challenge us all to invest in one another: reach out to those you have not seen, strengthen your connections, and lean on one another when needed. Our fellow Mobility Airmen are family, AMC is our home, and it is good to be home!