Finding the 181st Intelligence Wing's pulse
By SSgt Chris Jennings, 181st IW/Public Affairs
/ Published October 24, 2008
HULMAN FIELD, TERRE HAUTE, Indiana -- As a command chief, the priorities have to focus on upholding the policies and directives of the commander along with representing the enlisted Airmen throughout the unit. CMSgt Henry Mook, the incoming command chief will stick to these procedures, but his focus, like the entire Wing's focus right now will be on the future.
As I sat down with Mook for a quick interview, it soon became apparent that talking about the future of the Wing and breaking down the enlisted guidance from student flight to command chief; that this was not going to be a five-minute interview. We talked about the history of excellence the unit had always upheld and how he planned on carrying that excellence into the future with the new missions. From the moment he sat down in the Public Affairs Office, Mook permeated a sense of leadership, knowledge and a passion for the Air National Guard and the 181st Intelligence Wing. We started out with feelings about being named the next command chief and while everyone mentions their humbleness and being honored about the position, his sincerity of actually being humble and honored was apparent. He didn't want to talk about him earning the position, Mook wanted to talk about the other candidates and their accomplishments and how qualified they were.
"It could have been anyone who put their hat in for the position," Mook said. "Everyone that applied was more than qualified for the job."
Mook's reputation within the Wing started more than 29 years ago on the flight line. He came from active duty straight into the unit and took a job as a technician crew chief.
As he relived his beginnings within the Wing, Mook's story isn't unlike so many other leaders within the unit. They came in as aircraft people. It was the aircraft that fueled their passion for the Guard and spawned their attitudes of excellence. We talked about F-100s, several different models of F-4 and F-16s, and how the changes came and went with each new platform. His stories didn't revolve around the equipment, but the Airmen surrounding it. From the fuel guys to the air frames and to the crew chiefs, Mook represents the Wing's history, from a people perspective. He has come from the internal workings of a fighter unit and now leads an Intelligence Wing into the future. Mook knows the same Racer excellence will be apparent.
"We, as in the 181st, were the best in the business at our jobs on the flight line and we let everyone else know about it," he explained. "We were cocky because we were the best and I know that same attitude and sense of pride will become visible in our new missions."
Mook's experience has been from every angle the Guard could offer. From active duty to full-time technician and then to traditional Guardsman status, he has seen the challenges presented to every position and understands what Airmen are going through.
"Right now we are moving into such an exciting era and the technology can put us as one of the largest DGSs in the country," Mook explained. "Unfortunately it's hard for us to explain what that exactly is to people out side the unit. Our top secret missions keep us from explaining the ins and outs of our missions, but the excitement is there."
The conversation turned toward future Airmen within the new missions and Mook, who is currently overseeing Student Flight, was happy to talk about what he is seeing.
"We are improving the capabilities of our student flight with a more regimented system. Basic Military Training is not what it used to be and we are allowing our new Airmen to get a head start on what to expect and the feedback we are getting shows that it is helping."
Our conversation, like many in the last few years throughout the base, referred back to what was. Mook recognizes that change is difficult, but the positive attitude he has seen across the base the last few months has let him know the future is very bright.
"We've got Airmen coming back from school who are so excited to jump into their position, it rubs off on others," he said. "While some older members are still thinking about the loss of the jets, we've got members in Student Flight who have never seen aircraft at Hulman Field. Their excitement is noticeable and it is for the new missions. That is great."
Mook is an Airmen's chief. Airmen throughout the unit all have stories of how Mook helped them get through this and that. He has been a mentor, a leader and a friend to so many 181st members; some think it is only proper for him to become the new command chief.
When he takes the command chief position early next year, Mook will be monitoring the pulse of the unit. He explains in his words that the members are the unit's beating heart, but having confident, healthy, well-trained and happy Airmen is the key to success.
"I will be relying on other senior NCOs for the insights on each individual," he said as he discussed the challenges of gaining the unit perspective he is looking for. "I will hear about what mission "Joe" Airman did that day and how that mission went, but I want to know how "Joe" Airman, the person is today."
Sitting down with CMSgt Henry Mook, the new 181st Intelligence Wing Command Chief and then sitting down to write about it, made me think of several key words. He's been described by his peers with words like; mentor, honor, integrity, sense of humor, excellence and passion, but there are two words that resonate continually and represent the new command chief - leader and class.