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Wingman day highlights professionalism as key to resiliency

120th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Lee Smith speaks to Airmen assembled for Wingman Day held at the Mansfield Convention Center in Great Falls, Mont., Dec. 5, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson/Released)

120th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Lee Smith speaks to Airmen assembled for Wingman Day held at the Mansfield Convention Center in Great Falls, Mont., Dec. 5, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson/Released)

GREAT FALLS, Mont. -- Nearly 800 members of the Montana Air National Guard gathered at the Mansfield Convention Center here for a wingman day event on Saturday of the December unit training assembly.

Col. Lee Smith, commander of the 120th Airlift Wing opened the event by welcoming the Airmen of the 120th AW and the 219th REDHORSE Squadron, followed by an end of the year video montage highlighting the many events and accomplishments of the Montana Air National Guard during 2015.

"2015 was an incredibly busy year, but we accomplished a lot," said Smith. "We're putting Vigilante flags all over the map and that's awesome."

With the wing's new mission and the conversion process in full swing, wing leadership has been developing new mission and vision statements to go along with the unit's changing priorities.

"The mission is very simple - to answer the calls of our nation and state with ready Airmen and precision air delivery; anytime, anywhere," said Smith. "The vision is more aspirational - it's who we want to become."

A new motto "Ready to ride" was introduced by Smith.

Smith explained that wing priorities are influenced, if not driven by the priorities of the Air Force, our major command and our State Adjutant General.

"Our main job right now is we are in a unit conversion. We want to complete our conversion on-time so that we can deploy and support the warfighter in late 2016," said Smith. "While we are doing that we need to meet all of our federal and state taskings along the way, so this will be a busy year."   

Smith identified securing the C-130 mission for the long-term, developing our Airmen, taking care of Airmen and their families, improvement and innovation, and effective resource management as priorities for the wing.

"In the future if you're asking yourself 'why as a wing are we doing that?' it'll be because it fits neatly into one or more of these categories," said Smith. "If it doesn't then it's non-value added activity and we really shouldn't be doing it unless higher headquarters tells us we have to do it."

After discussing a number of hot-topic items and taking questions from Airmen, Smith turned the floor over to Col. Richard W. Tatem, Individual Mobility Augmentee (IMA) to the Profession of Arms Center of Excellence (PACE) Director, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.

Tatem, a 1988 Summa cum laude graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, former Air Force KC-135 Air Refueling pilot, and U.S. Air Force Academy English Composition and College-level French Instructor, gave a three-hour presentation full of logical analysis based on research, anecdotes and personal experiences highlighting influential leadership, resiliency and personal improvement.

"We're really good at teaching people how to think, to conceptualize the joint fight and all that kind of stuff," said Tatem. "There's this human area: knowledge about and ability to work with people, psychology, communication skills and self-awareness. I'm not so sure we're great in this area."

Throughout the three-hour presentation Tatem entertained Airmen with his tales, fascinated them with results of a number of social experiences, but more importantly got them to reflect on their own lives and gave them advice on how to be a better leader, wingman and human.

"Science, engineering, law and medicine - these are the things that are noble and necessary to sustain life," said Tatem. "Art and poetry and music and romance and love - these are the things that make life worth living."

Tatem explained that professionalism is the ability to lead one's self.
"Carpe diem - seize the day," said Tatem. "Make your life and the lives around you and the people around you extraordinary." 
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