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News > OC-ALC commander speaks at luncheon: learn from mistakes, keep growing
OC-ALC commander speaks at luncheon: learn from mistakes, keep growing

Posted 2/26/2009   Updated 2/26/2009 Email story   Print story

    


by Brandice J. Armstrong
Tinker Public Affairs


2/26/2009 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.,  -- Maj. Gen. P. David Gillett Jr. spoke Feb. 19 at Tinker's Logistics Officers Association Crossroads Chapter luncheon.

Held in the Tinker Club ballroom, the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center commander shared with approximately 80 people his observations, advice and lessons learned during his more than 30-year Air Force career.

"Be involved in your mission and listen to your people," said General Gillett. "We're really all about being Airmen. We're here to deliver air power, and at the end of the day, we're about flying sorties and supporting people. It's a life and death business." General Gillett, who took command of the OC-ALC in January, recalled experiences from his days as first lieutenant and major.

As a first lieutenant stationed at Lakenheath Airfield in England, he was the flight-line avionics, job control and aircraft maintenance branch officer-in-charge, with the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing.

The general said one day, after about three weeks on the job, he hopped in a truck and drove to the other side of the flight-line. He heard personnel talk over the radio about needing a part. He then watched them struggle with transporting the item. But, instead of doing anything to help them, he returned to his office. Once there, a familiar chief master sergeant stormed into the lieutenant's office and reprimanded him for not doing anything.

"That was a career moment," General Gillett said. "I thought about what he said for about two-and-a-half seconds and said, 'Chief, you know what, you're right.'"

The general said he learned from those mistakes and took advantage of other errors.

"Mistakes are your friends," the general said. "They give you a chance to learn better than any book you'll ever find. If you make a mistake, you're doing something."

As a major stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., he was a maintenance supervisor for the 4th Component Repair Station, which later became the 4th Aircraft Generation Squadron.

On one occasion, he failed a local exercise aircraft generation, the general said, the deputy commander for maintenance called then-Major Gillett into his office and, with the door open, he let "Major Gillett" know that his performance was not up to standard. After the reprimand, Major Gillett talked to his personnel and two weeks later they got a chance to repeat the exercise. This time, they achieved an excellent rating. A month later, he directed the first-ever real-world F-15E generation and deployed to Operation Desert Shield.

"Own up to a mistake and then figure out what it is that you could have done better," the general said. "Build on that and make it your strength."

The general also credited a diverse self-improvement reading list for his success and said having fun in the workplace improves the job at hand.The meeting wrapped after General Gillett was given the LOA 2008 Lt. Gen. Donald J. Wetekam Award. This year, the Tinker LOA Chapter won the award named for the Air Force's former Deputy Chief of Staff, Installations and Logistics. The award is presented to one large LOA chapter each year. Large chapters have more than 40 national members.

LOA is a professional development organization designed for military and civilian personnel in logistics career fields. There are more than 3,500 members world-wide.



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