Have you ever wondered what your Wing Commander does all day? Once upon a time, I was given the great voluntold opportunity to shadow my Wing Commander for an entire day. I say “voluntold,” because as a shift worker, it just happened to fall on one of my days off. However, it turned into an eye opening experience that my supervisor was able to spin it into a pretty great EPR bullet. The day I spent with him seemed to be a relatively slow one, but this is what happened:
I was told to show up at his office at 0730 in PT gear. Great, I was doing PT with the commander. This man is 6’4’’ with a body fat percentage in the teens. As his secretary greets me, I am surprised by the amount of activity happening in the office at such an early hour. At 0730, most shops are just opening up, brewing coffee, and catching up on last night’s game. We have a quick meet-and-greet and I’m told we have to hurry to the gym. I quickly learn this is how the entire day will be, hurried.
We drive his GOV with his special “Commander” sticker to the gym and get front row, reserved parking. So far, I’m on board. We walk into the gym where everyone is impatiently waiting our arrival, another thing to get used to. Thankfully, he turns a blind-eye to my failed attempt at Crossfit and doesn’t say a word as I flail all over the court.
We part to clean up and get ready for the day. When I get back to his office, he’s busily working and eating at the same time. I sit awkwardly at his conference table and eat my breakfast, not saying much, just watching. He makes small talk, which is polite. Then, out of nowhere, it’s time to go.
We jump back in the car and do a few laps around the base. He likes to keep tabs on what’s going on and do some quality control, making sure the landscaping is neat and streets are free of trash and debris. The base is essentially his front lawn, so he wants to make sure it’s clean. I jokingly ask if I can drive, he laughs but says no. We arrive at the “E-Club,” where we park in a reserved spot and again, show up to a large crowd that has been waiting for us. He swoops in, hands out a few trophies and then makes a swift exit to the door.
Next, we cruise down the flight line after receiving special access, and check out some aircraft. It’s home of Air Force One, which means there are lots of DV aircraft rolling around. He escorts me through Air Force Two, which carries the VPOTUS, and the surrounding maintenance crew and security forces barely blink an eye. He’s hard to mistake for anyone else. It’s starting to feel as if we were celebrities. The way people were waiting for us, allowing us to do what we wanted when we wanted. It’s something I could get used to.
He checks in on a few squadrons, squeezing in a few minutes of face time. Supervisors exchange looks of horror and curiosity as he passes through their untidy workstations. He seems to get some type of enjoyment from surprising people at their desk. Typically, you are notified days in advance that the Commander is coming through your area, so you have time to clean and be prepared. This wasn’t one of those times.
As we break for lunch, he tells me to be back in an hour, no rush. I head to the food court and enjoy a lunch hour away from my desk, for once. As I breeze back into his office he has a Tupperware full of spaghetti in one hand, a document in the other and a phone to his ear. This man never stops working. I, again, sit awkwardly taking in every minute. We chat for a brief second about my career goals before he’s interrupted by another phone call and a reminder from his secretary about a meeting that begins in five minutes. As usual, we rush down the hall to a group of people who have everything set up for us. I watch as an E-6 nervously presents a couple of slides about an upcoming air show. His hands are shaking and every other word is “sir.”
Around 1500, I get kicked out of his office so he can have a classified briefing. I don’t mind; I’m not sure I’ve gone to the bathroom all day. I make small talk with his secretary and find out that his secretary has a secretary. I try to get a few peeks at his schedule to see what time my day will end, but they keep it close to the chest. They tell me he usually goes home about 1930 every night. My eyes almost pop out of my head as I contemplate how I’m spending 12 hours on the clock, when it’s supposed to be my day off. I silently curse my leadership for putting me in this position.
It’s now 1650, my bouncing leg tells how antsy I am. This is unacceptable, I think; I should tell him that I have to go home to my ailing husband. My cat died (I don’t have a cat). Anything that will get me out of here. He calls me into his office; he apologizes for the briefing running so long. I tell him it was no problem, when it was obviously a huge problem. He motions for me to sit down at the conference table where he and a Chief are sitting. We talk about the day and he asks meaningful, personal questions bringing up small tangents we had talked about during the day. I’m shocked that he was able to remember so much small stuff during his hectic day.
At 1715, he told me I was free to go, but I could stick around and do another round of PT with him and some Chiefs if I wanted to. I unabashedly laughed out loud and told him “maybe next time.” I rush out to my car so they wouldn’t have a chance to call me back for one last meeting and headed home.
After complaining to my husband about what a draining day it was, I realized it was pretty nice of him to let me tag along to his appointments and get a new perspective on his job. I’m still thankful for the great experience and would recommend anyone do it if they are given the chance.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.