Get to know your new wing commander

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Angela Jackson
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Recently, the 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office sat down with the new commander, Col. Douglas A. Perry Jr., to get to know him and learn where he wants to take the wing.

Q: What are your thoughts on becoming commander of the 445 Airlift Wing?
A: When you are younger in your career and working toward that next professional goal, you never know what opportunities may present themselves. I’m super humbled and honored that the command put the trust in me to lead a wing. I’m very excited to come into a new team and be a part of this new mission set and see where we can take it. It’s just an incredible opportunity for me, and I hope to bring that value to the table for the whole team.

Q: What do you hope to bring to the 445th AW?
A: I’ve been in the Reserve forces for 34 years now. I started my career in the Air National Guard and Reserve as a traditional reservist, and then I became an Air Reserve Technician. I’ve always been in the wing unit program, so I understand the struggles that Airmen face. I hope to bring different perspectives and new energy to the team here based on all that experience.

Q: What are some goals and priorities that you have for the for 445th AW?
A: In the next six months, we need to update the wing’s strategic alignment, to make sure we’re still in line with the current needs and demands. It boils down to Air Force Reserve Command’s strategic priorities – Ready Now and Transforming for the Future. With the great power competition, all our peer adversaries out there now, and the Air Force restructure, we’ve got to get in realignment. I want to make sure our Airmen have the tools they need to succeed, and they understand what they bring to the total fight. The bottom line is we’ve got to be ready when the call comes to go out the door and do our jobs, and this wing’s proven that they can do that. I want to make sure everybody understands what value they bring to the team, and I will do the best I can to bring the resources we need to make those things happen. There’s a lot of changes going on right now. If you’re striving to be an expert in your job, and be the best you can be, all that other stuff will settle in around you.

Q: What are some words of wisdom you could impart to members of the 445th AW?
A: Take care of your spiritual, mental and physical health, and your families. Firstly, you’ve got to be in good shape to take care of your family. One of our core values is service before self. If you don’t have those things lined up and your family taken care of with a good support system, then when service before self comes calling, it can be hard. All those things must be aligned, and if they’re not, reach out for help. There are a lot of resources we can provide in the organization to help keep those things in line.

Secondly, there’s a lot of noise out there, a lot of influence. If all those other things are aligned, and you’re getting frustrated about the things you can’t control, try not to make a major last-minute decision based on too much emotion because it might not be the best one. In flying airplanes, if you get compound emergencies, you step back and “hack a clock.” You don’t realize how much time has gone by, so if you step back, “hack a clock” and slow down, it gives you time to reevaluate.*

Applying that in other areas of my life, I found that if I get frustrated, and I’m trying to make a big life-changing decision, emotions might not be the best way to deal with those situations. As Citizen Airmen, you’re balancing your family with a full-time civilian career and your other part-time military profession, which demands a lot. Maintain good communication with your team. Keep the communication flat or level and try not to make a major life-changing decision about anything in general with too much emotion. *Editor’s note: “Hacking the clock” is a crisis management tactic pilots use to allow for more time to process the situation and respond appropriately. It is a method where they physically press a timer in the cockpit to provide them a visual parameter for how much time is truly passing. This helps “slow down” time to what is realistic and not what is perceived.

Q: What are your impressions of the 445th AW so far?
A: I’m super excited to be here. I’ve got nothing but great things to say. When I got selected for this opportunity and it got publicly released, I started reaching out with my direct team, and they reached out to me too, and from that point forward all I’ve had is nothing but a really warm welcome. It’s just an incredible feeling. Everybody has been super supportive with trying to help me find housing and get settled in. I’ve immediately learned that the wing is full of talented people working hard at what they do, and they’re very proud of the wing’s accomplishments, and what they do to contribute to the mission.

Q: What has been a memory during your career that has stuck with you?
A: There are so many. I think there isn’t one particular situation per se, but there’s one type of memory that’s always been the same – the off time whether it’s on a temporary duty assignment, social gathering outside of work with my fellow teammates when we’re out of uniform off the clock, just breaking bread with your brothers and sisters, relaxing and telling stories. That’s what’s resonated with me.

Years ago, I was on an Eastern European capstone trip. We were traveling around to different U.S. embassies and one of the locations we were at was in Prague. Underneath the hotel, they had this huge go-kart racing track that spanned the hotel that you never would have guessed was there. There were about 10 of us who all got together from our trip. We had the space to ourselves, and it was just crazy, fun times. For some reason I just always remember that. I was young in my career and was like “Wow, I can’t believe this. I’m over in the Czech Republic where the first ‘Mission Impossible’ was filmed and just the historic architecture and rich culture, and here we are racing go-karts in this basement of this hotel.” I have a lot of memories of those type of bonding experiences where you just get to know your fellow Airmen better.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re off duty? Any hobbies or interests?
A: I love the outdoors. I love being on the lake. We’re a big lake family. I love boating, whether it’s water sports and fishing. We’ve got a couple of jet skis in the family, and we go out there and just tear it up. It’s a lot of fun. Being out on the water with family and friends, relaxing and chilling out is probably what brings me most enjoyment. But aside from that, my family and I share a love for animals. We’ve had five dogs, three cats, eight chickens and five fish tanks.

I also really love racing, any type but particularly motorsports. I grew up just racing around on dirt bikes and go karts and different things like that with a group of friends that all shared the same interests. I just liked the competition. I miss it. I was really drawn to the camaraderie in the racing community much like that of the military. It’s a core group of people who become your family.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add about your new role as the commander of the 445th AW?
A: It’s an honor to be here and be a part of this team, to serve the Airmen in this capacity. As a team, we’re going to continue to find ways to improve our processes and people. I want to make sure we are deliberate and purposeful with talent management and succession planning processes and programs to give people the opportunities to develop and grow – we’ve got to grow our future leaders.

Everybody from top to bottom has a path to that next bigger and better thing. Supervisors at all levels should be looking to who’s going to replace you one day. When my successor comes, my goal will to be to have left the wing in a better place. And that should always be the goal, right? At every level, strive to leave the organization in a better place than it was.

When I look at strategic depth from the wing level, we’ve got such diverse Airmen. You might be a doctor, a pilot, police officer, a nurse, an engineer, a business partner, you name it. Again, an immense amount of talent comes here. I want to make sure we’re looking at all opportunities to leverage that talent and empower people at the lowest levels. I want our people to be valued and bring as much as they can to the wing even if outside of their Air Force career. Private sector companies or military organizations that don’t continually try to innovate, improve processes and people and leverage all those talents become stagnant. There’s a lot of things we can’t control like a private company can because we’re bound by all the government processes and rules, but we can certainly create the best environment we can for our people and organization and fight for the things we need and for what is in our direct control.

So, those are the things I’m thinking about. They’ve got to all go into making a super strong cohesive team, and everybody needs to be empowered at all levels. We need to have transparency across the field, and everybody needs to understand what they bring to our wing when it comes to the total fight. I think we can continue to foster and grow those things. The only path forward is to become better and stronger.