News: Laissez les bon temps roulez, Guantanamo Bay!
Story by Sgt. David McLean
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba — Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Brian T. Schexnaydre, the Joint Task Force Guantanamo command master chief, is soon leaving the JTF Guantanamo family and a new command chief will be taking the reins.
Schexnaydre says that when he arrived, this was his first true joint service assignment. He said he had great confidence in the abilities of his troopers.
"As long as I could empower the troops below me, and trust them because we trained them, my job was going to be quite easy," Schexnaydre said of his time as chief of operations for the 474th Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron at Camp Justice.
In Dec. 2008, Schexnaydre was asked to become the acting command chief for the JTF, and in Jan. 2009, an official announcement confirmed he would be the new command master chief. Troopers have looked to him for leadership throughout his time here.
"He has done a phenomenal job," Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jeanette Gooch, with 474th ECES, said. "I'm going to miss his work ethic. He always had an open-door policy and I knew I could go in and talk to him."
The position of command master chief will be filled by Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Scott Fleming when he arrives here in a few weeks. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Michael Withrow will fill the position as acting command master chief until Fleming arrives.
Withrow said he has big shoes to fill with Schexnaydre leaving at this time in the JTF mission.
"The thing I will miss most is the ease in which he made things happen," Withrow said. "He made it look easy. My goal will be to maintain the efforts that [Command Chief Master Sgt. Brian] Schexnaydre has put into place as it relates to the troopers and also to ensure that we all are working to fulfill the mission requirements that Rear Adm. David M. Thomas Jr. has entrusted us with."
Schexnaydre says he has faith in the abilities of his successors and knows the job will be done right.
"I'm highly confident that between Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Michael Withrow and Command Master Chief Scott Fleming, things will continue in a positive fashion," Schexnaydre said.
Schexnaydre said he wants to give his thanks to each and every trooper who served with him. He said everyone from the admiral down to the lowest enlisted trooper has given him an education in how to be the best professional trooper he can be.
"I was put in a position to reinforce the fact that a well-taken-care-of trooper is the heart of the success of the mission," Schexnaydre said. "I'd like to tell the troopers that if it wasn't for each and every individual trooper out there, I would not have been afforded the opportunity to sit in this seat. Whether they saw me as a success or as a failure, hopefully I'm walking out as being successful. The overall experience is something that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my career and my life."
Schexnaydre said he feels this is a good time to leave. He has a daughter he said he wants to see and make up for lost time. His next assignment will allow him to take his daughter with him to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., as the acting civil engineering manager for the Air National Guard. Following this temporary assignment, he said he hopes to settle into a traditional Air National Guard role with his 159th Fighter Wing, Civil Engineering Squadron in his home state of Louisiana.
Schexnaydre said he has a special place in his heart for each trooper and memories that will last a lifetime.
"This is a family I will never forget for the rest of my life," Schexnaydre said. "Thanks for the professionalism and the success, and it could not have happened without the input and performance of every single trooper."
Rather than a more typical, "Hasta la vista" as a farewell to the troopers, Schexnaydre, a Louisianan, concluded, "Laissez les bon temps roulez," or "Let the good times roll, GTMO!"