HomeNewsCommentariesDisplay

To 'Sir,' with much love and respect

BOLLING AIR FORCE BASE, D.C. -- In January 2004, a new wing leader took his seat as 11th Wing commander here in the command section on the 3rd floor.

Shortly, after then Col. Duane A. Jones' arrival, it was very apparent to many that we had received a special "gift" from the vice chief of staff's office.

In his opening remarks at his change of command as the new 11th Wing commander, he told members of "The Chief's Own" that we owe a tremendous debt to the Airmen who came before us, a responsibility to maintain their heritage. He went on to say that the very best way we can do that is simply by doing our duty.

"I'm ready to get to work, to get on with the 11th Wing's business," he said to his new followers.

And that's just what he did.

As the tongues wagged and opinions formed all over the base, the eager boss settled into his new mission at Bolling. Little did he or anyone else know at the time, just what was in store for his near future and for "The Chief's Own."

Thus began the 11th Wing's newest legacy of transformational leadership at Bolling.

Over the months that followed, Colonel Jones' style of leadership ultimately affected everyone. Whether he was talking to his people at a commander's call, a senior staff meeting, in his office or at the fitness center, he always made people's eyes light up with his friendly smile, dry sense of humor and insightful comments.

No matter who you were -- from lowest ranked Airman to highest ranked civilian -- Colonel Jones was always appreciative of a constructive and creative spirit.

Instead of saying "No" all the time, being critical and negative about people's ideas, he always tried to help them come to the right solutions to their problems, so that he could then say, "Yes." He made everyone feel like they mattered and that they had something of value to contribute to the organization.

Because of his unique "holding court" quality, Colonel Jones was able to get people to listen to him without being unreasonably demanding or appearing to be overly authoritative.

While here, even Colonel Jones' family openly showed respect and adoration for him, clearly revealing much about his ability to lead.

Maybe these are some of the reasons why the Air Force promoted Colonel Jones to the rank of brigadier general within months of his planned retirement. This promotion gave him another challenging opportunity to serve as a dual-hat commander for the newly reactivated Air Force District of Washington from July 2005 until now, as well as commander of the 11th Wing. Even Air Force leadership seemed to know a sure thing when they saw it!

Carrying additional responsibility never seemed to bother General Jones. He seemed to revel in the joy of other people's accomplishments. As he stretched his own leadership limits, he stretched others' too. He empowered his people.

General Jones was never afraid to take on a challenge, nor would he ask his followers to give more than he was willing to give. It was really tough to complain about increasing workloads and limited resources when the boss was dealing with them too. Because of his responsible leadership, we are all better managers and leaders now.

There's no doubt that he will be missed here, but remember this: He is a rare "gift" that should be shared with others who need his style of leadership. It's time for him to move on to his next challenge.

Sir, God bless you and your family on your new journey. Thank you for everything you've done for the members of the 11th Wing and AFDW.

Now, it's time again for all of us to get back to work on new Air Force business.