Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

October 26, 2017 at 7:11am

Rainier Wing welcomes new leadership

Col. Scott L. McLaughlin, 446th Airlift Wing commander, passes the Mission Support Group’s guidon to Col. Raymundo Luevanos during an Assumption of Command Ceremony at McChord Field, Oct. 14. Photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Bryan Hull

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The 446th Airlift Wing welcomed its newest group commander during the October Unit Training Assembly.

Col. Raymundo Luevanos, who was previously stationed here in the 1990s, returned to the Rainier Wing to take charge of the 446th Mission Support Group during an Assumption of Command Ceremony Oct. 14.

Presiding over the ceremony was Col. Scott L. McLaughlin, 446th Airlift Wing commander.

"I'm confident that I have chosen the right person for the job," he said during the ceremony.

Prior to returning to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Luevanos served as the Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer for the state of Oregon, working for the National Security Emergency Preparedness staff, First Air Force, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.

As a returning member of the Rainier Wing, Luevanos offered insight into his previous experience here as well as his goals as the new MSG commander during a question-and-answer session with Public Affairs.

1. As former 446 AW member, how is it to return to serve as the MSG/CC?

As a former 446th AW member, I'm very excited to be back. I started both my active-duty and Reserve careers here at McChord, so there is a sense of kismet as I return in the group commander role. I have been offered so many opportunities over the years by this wing, and now I hope to be able to give back to the military community that has enriched my life both professionally and personally. Returning with a few more grey hairs than when I left, I'm jubilant to see familiar faces who have been so gracious in helping me settle into my new role, and I'm energized by the new friendships that I've already made in my short tenure back.

2. Can you describe something you missed about the 446th AW now that you've returned?

As I return to the 446th, there is a lot of change evident: people have moved on, roles have changed, manpower levels have been adjusted - all these are "constants" throughout our Reserve careers. The one thing that has not changed, and one thing that really motivated me about returning was feeling of family and comradery in the 446th. I know it sounds cliché, but Team McChord and the 446th specifically are renowned for being exceptional, and I attribute that directly to our members. The dedication to service and caring about our fellow airmen are hallmarks of the 446th; I'm eager to carry on that tradition of serving with fellow patriots.

3. In your most recent assignment prior to becoming the MSG/CC, you served as an EPLO. Could you describe an incident you coordinated response to that stands out in your mind?

Having served as an EPLO to the state of Oregon, our primary focus was on providing Defense Support for Civil Authorities (DSCA). This was especially rewarding because it meant that we were providing assistance to fellow citizens in their most critical times of need. Our most common response efforts were focused on annual fires and floods, which could be anticipated but not predicted. Thankfully, states like Oregon and Washington have established processes that filter immediate response to local jurisdictions.

However, the one incident for which we provided the most coordination was during a joint exercise called CASCADIA RISING. This scenario involves an earthquake off of the coast of the Western U.S. along the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Experts anticipate an 8.0+ seismic event which in turn would cause a tsunami up and down the coast, and which could also potentially trigger volcanic activity in Mt. Rainier/Mt. St. Helens. It was very rewarding to partner with local agencies from towns to counties to state governments along with federal government agencies. I feel like we made great progress in creating momentum and building relationships which will be needed in the event of a national crisis situation.

4. Luenvanos was the operations officer for McChord Air Force Base's last Tactical Airlift Control Element in 2009. We asked him what it was like to serve as the last TALCE at McChord.

Up until 2009, the 446th had a Tactical Airlift Control Element (TALCE). For 18 months I was the operations officer for that element. Our mission was to stage at forward locations as an airlift command and control cell. The idea is that we would be one of the first units in at an austere location and be able to set up ongoing C-17 operations until a sustained expeditionary group could be established.

It was a very rewarding experience and gave me great insight into how operations, maintenance, and mission support all integrate together. We had about 20 highly specialized members with skillsets in maintenance, fuels, communications, flight engineers, command and control and so on, and we had to work seamlessly to establish a "lifeline" between TACC and inbound Air Mobility Command aircraft.

Closing that unit was bittersweet because we were a fairly close-knit unit, and when we deployed we all deployed together. But many of us have managed to stay in touch in the years since.

5. What's one piece of mentoring advice that has stayed with you throughout your career?

Be Proactive! As a mentor, take the initiative and reach out to those people that you supervise and look for opportunities that will help groom members for success. Expect some hesitation when you are proposing change with your members. But provide those you mentor with your vision of how they can achieve growth and explain that true growth involves expanding your horizons from your current comfort zone.

As a member who receives mentoring, be proactive! Don't assume that your supervisor knows what your goals and desires are. Map out short-term (one-year) goals and long-term goals (3+ years) and think of ways that your supervisor can help you grow to meet those goals.

6. Could you describe what it was like to go from active-duty to the Reserves and what was one lesson you learned in that transition?

When I left active-duty, I really had no practical knowledge about the Reserves and was not even considering going into the Reserves. After about three months, I started missing the comradery and while talking to one of my friends, he recommended the Reserves to me. I went to one of the senior arts in the flying squadron and became a reservist the same week. I really enjoyed the flexibility of scheduling that came with the Reserves (I could devote virtually as many days as I wanted) and I was able to see many of my old compatriots from my active duty days.

One lesson I learned is that there are many ways to serve ... serve your country and serve your community. I have the utmost respect for Guardsmen and Reservists because they truly are citizen soldiers and airmen, volunteering their free time to serve their nation, at the cost of spending additional time with family and friends.

7. As the new MSG/CC, can you describe some of your goals as commander?

As the new MSG/CC, I have three goals for my group. First, by nature of having the word "support" in our group name, we have people counting on us every day. I am asking my group members to stay proficient.

It's my job to ensure that those in the MSG have the tools and training opportunities to stay proficient in their jobs so that they are ready when their country calls in times of need.

Second, we need to set the example. People are looking to the military in times of crisis. Whether it's helping out our country with situations like that in Las Vegas or humanitarian assistance in Puerto Rico, we need to be the example of someone who lives up to that higher standard.

Third, the ops tempo is not going down. It didn't decrease during my previous time here at McChord, and I don't think it's going to decrease in the future. Because of the high state of stress in military, a working environment and even in our home life, we need to be a good wingman and recognize when those next to you need help and support.

8. What's one thing you're really looking forward to this holiday season?

As we move forward into this holiday season I want to make sure to set time aside to just get to know my fellow airmen. With such limited time during a drill weekend, I think it's important to also spend time with them, it really is a second family.

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