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    For maintenance squadron commander, a career comes full circle

    For maintenance squadron commander, a career comes full circle

    Photo By Airman 1st Class Halley Burgess | Capt. Matthew Payne, commander of the Missouri Air National Guard's 131st Maintenance...... read more read more

    WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, MO, UNITED STATES

    10.15.2017

    Story by Staff Sgt. Brittany Cannon 

    131st Bomb Wing

    WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Missouri — “When I first decided to become a commissioned officer, I knew I wanted to be a maintenance commander,” said Capt. Matthew Payne.

    After 21 years of service, that goal became a reality, as Payne assumed command of the 131st Maintenance Squadron here today.

    The assumption of command for the former 131st Force Support Squadron director of personnel fills a vacancy created minutes earlier when its previous leader, Maj. Chad Larson, assumed command of the 131st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron in a combined ceremony that also saw the 131st Maintenance Group change command.

    “It’s taken 10 years for my career to circle back,” said Payne. “Now, I get to come back to maintenance as a commander; it’s where I always wanted to be.”

    Payne comes from a family with deep-rooted military ties. His grandfather was a World War II prisoner of war and his dad has five brothers who served in the military. This legacy of service was what first sparked in him the idea of joining the military.

    “I needed to do something for myself,” said Payne. “I wanted real job experience.”

    Payne’s military career began in October 1996 when he enlisted in the Air Force.

    After serving three years on active duty, Payne directly transitioned to the Missouri Air National Guard via the Palace Chase program, into the then-131st Fighter Wing in St. Louis. During this career transition, he also decided to cross-train into the electrical and environmental career field, where he worked on F-15s.

    While working full-time with the Guard, Payne also worked to finish his bachelor’s degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He took a full course load of classes, and sometimes changed work shifts to fit his school schedule.

    Payne said he initially didn’t want to go to college directly out of high school, but after receiving credits through the military he thought it would be a benefit to finish his degree.

    Then-Staff Sgt. Payne considered commissioning to become a maintenance officer, and applied for five open full-time officer positions. Instead of a maintenance position, he was offered the installation deployment officer role in the 131st Logistics Readiness Squadron, which required him to eventually move here from St. Louis.

    The move Whiteman proved to be easier than anticipated. While Payne was getting ready to make the move, another Guard member was preparing to sell his home outside Whiteman and move back to St. Louis. In perfect Guard-family form, the two Guardsmen worked out the timing to allow Payne to buy the home that he would move his family to in a couple months, without it ever hitting the real estate market.

    “It worked out perfectly,” said Payne. “It’s how the Guard works, there is always a real sense of family.”

    Payne has been at Whiteman for eight years. During that time, he has held four different positions in the wing, one of which as a maintenance operations officer for three years.

    In his remarks at the assumption of command ceremony, Lt. Col. Michael Belardo, new 131st MXG commander, recalled words that a previous 131st Bomb Wing commander shared about Payne when he was awarded the 131st Bomb Wing company grade officer of the year award in 2015.

    “He thanked him specifically for calling it like it is; for telling the truth to those who needed to hear it, whether it was the wing commander or a co-worker,” Belardo said. “That says a lot about Matt. He’s a great officer; a great team player; and someone who has the unique ability to sort through the clutter, to find and objectively present the truth.”

    “His plain-spoken, down-to-earth approach is what sets him apart,” Belardo added.

    Payne thanked his extensive support network that helped him arrive at his present opportunity, and in his remarks from the podium, identified two challenges to those he now commands.

    “Be the best you can. My dad taught me this my whole life: no matter what your job … just be your best,” he said. “And the other thing I’d request: take care of the guy standing next to you; take care of your co-workers.”

    “My goal is to continue what the maintenance squadron has already been doing,” said Payne. “To continue to build our Total Force Integration relationship with active duty and have our Guard members be even more impactful than they already are.”

    The maintenance squadron already has some great, experienced leaders and he looks forward to working with everyone again.

    “Sometimes it just takes a little bit of patience and resiliency,” said Payne. “The plan for me was always to become a maintenance commander, and I’m honored to be a part of this squadron.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 10.15.2017
    Date Posted: 10.15.2017 15:59
    Story ID: 251773
    Location: WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, MO, US 

    Web Views: 182
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