KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. – The 403rd Aeromedical Staging Squadron guidon was passed to the new squadron commander, Col. Carl H. Spear, Jr., during a ceremony presided over by Col. Robert J. Stanton, 403rd Wing vice commander, at the Roberts Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Facility Sunday.
The mission of the 403rd ASTS is to ensure that all members of the 403rd Wing are fit to fight and also to train for the deployed environment in which squadron members would be responsible for preparing patients for transport.
“They have the vital in-garrison role of keeping us medically ready to meet our nation’s call,” Stanton said. “The second part of their mission is wartime skills and setting up a staged area for receiving wounded on the battlefield.”
According to Stanton, Spear is the right person to command the squadron because of his breadth of medical and leadership experience. Spear enlisted into the U.S. Army as a combat tanker in 1983 and completed his bachelor’s degree in biology and military science in 1987. He then commissioned into the U.S. Army Armor Corps. He completed a doctorate of optometry in 1991 and officially transitioned into his medical career, serving in the Army until his separation in 2005.
After a break in service Spear became a Reserve Citizen Airman in 2008 serving as the chief of optometry and medical readiness officer for the 919th Special Operations Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. In 2015, he took command of the 919th Medical Squadron, where he remained until taking command of the 403rd ASTS.
“Not only does he possess medical and leadership skill sets,” Stanton said. “He’s not afraid to get in the middle of it.”
Spear said that some of the first things he learned about the 403rd Wing were the new vision and mission statements.
The vision of the 403rd Wing is, “Wing of choice: Airmen first, mission always,” and the mission is, “Develop exceptional Airmen ready to respond to every challenge every time.”
He said he connected with those statements because they resonated with the attitude and mission he completed as part of special operations forces. He also shared five key things he calls SOF truths, which he hopes to integrate into his leadership of the 403rd ASTS.
1. Humans are more important than equipment.
2. Quality over quantity.
3. You can’t mass produce forces.
4. Competent people can’t be spun up after the emergency has occurred.
5. All missions require the help of others.
Spear also said he believes in two basic principles – personal responsibility and unit accountability.
“I am going to hold you accountable, and I expect you to hold your people accountable,” he said.
As a final thought during his assumption of command ceremony, Spear wanted to point out that everyone in the audience was special because, not only was it Super Bowl Sunday and they chose to serve instead of doing something else, but that by being part of the Air Force Reserve, they were part of something to which only .3 percent of the country belonged.
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