Editor’s Note: Capt. Erin Dorrance, 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs, recently interviewed the incoming 86th AW Command Chief Master Sgt. Steve McDonald. He was previously assigned to Beale Air Force Base, Calif, as the 9th Mission Support Group superintendent.
Q. Where do you call home?
A. I was originally born and grew up in Columbus, Georgia. My father was in the U.S. Army and his last duty station was Fort Benning, Georgia.
Q. Are you married? Do you have children?
A. I have been married to my wonderful wife, Jennifer, for 19 years and have four amazing children. Matthew is 16, Gabriel is 14, Grace is 11 and Anna is 9.
Q. Why did you decide to join the Air Force?
A. After high school, I attended college for two years and was working full time. It got to a point where it wasn’t conducive to do both. I wanted to find a steady, rewarding occupation and considered the military. The only choice for me was the Air Force.
Q. What are your hobbies?
A. I enjoy sports, fishing, wood working and spending time with my family. These activities afford me opportunities to build relationships as well as time to relax.
Q. What are your goals as the 86th Airlift Wing command chief?
A. As the 86th Airlift Wing command chief, my goals are quite simple. I want to ensure the men and women of the 86th AW have the knowledge, resources, discipline and latitude to accomplish the mission. Additionally, I want to lead our Airmen in carrying out the chief of staff’s and our wing commander’s top priorities. Finally, I will look for ways to improve the quality of life and well-being of our Airmen and their families.
Q. What do you think is the biggest challenge in today’s Air Force for Airmen?
A. Just recently, I attended a course with 24 other chiefs from different bases and different levels of command. Almost all in the course agreed that the biggest challenge for Airmen in today’s Air Force is transformation. The world climate has changed and continues to evolve and the Air Force is transforming to meet new demands. It’s exciting and scary at the same time. I am amazed at the caliber of Airmen we have in today’s Air Force. They are looking for a challenge and looking to make a difference.
Q. Is there someone in particular that inspired you to become a chief?
A. I can not point to one particular person who inspired me to become a chief. I do remember my very first supervisor, Staff Sgt. Patrick Strausser. He was a three and a half year staff sergeant in the mid-1980s and the Airman of the Year for the base. He definitely set the tone for my career and gave me the drive to be the best that I could be. Also, U.S. Army Master Sgt. Harold Dawson taught me a great deal about leadership when I was assigned to the U.S. Central Command as a master sergeant. He showed leadership in action and inspired people from all branches of service.
Q. What advice do you have for Airmen that would like to achieve the rank of chief?
A. My advice to Airmen who want to achieve the rank of chief would be to embrace the Air Force Core Values. It’s easy to know the core values without embracing them. Guard your integrity at all costs…without it; your road will not be easy. Understand that your service will require personal sacrifice at times. Be willing to make that sacrifice when necessary. Finally, strive for excellence in everything. Do not settle for mediocrity. If your name is attached to a piece of correspondence, a project or a decision, make sure it is excellent. If you embrace the core values, you will be successful.