News: Q & A: New 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Assistant Wing Commander shares thoughts
Story by Cpl. Tyler J. Bolken
HAVELOCK, N.C. - Brig. Gen. Thomas recently arrived aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point from the Pentagon, where he served as the assistant deputy commandant for Marine aviation. Thomas is an F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot by trade and native of Austin, Texas, where he graduated from the University of Texas in 1984.
Q: What is your role as the Assistant Wing Commander?
A: My job is to aid in accomplishing the goals of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing commanding general, Maj. Gen. Glenn M. Walters, which focus on three areas; ensuring the Wing trains to a high standard, constantly improving the material readiness of our equipment and helping our commanders within the Wing create a positive work environment. We’re at war right now, so we’re always preparing for the next deployment, which presents challenges. With reduced numbers, it’s a testament to the Marines we have here at 2nd MAW. They continue to perform at a high level.
Q: What excites you about your new job and environment?
A: Number one, it’s an operational billet, which I think all Marines itch for. Also, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing has a great history of being successful conducting several combat and contingency operations over many, many years. It’s really just a privilege to be part of an organization like this. I’ve flown out of Cherry Point many times as an F/A-18 pilot, but I wasn’t really familiar with the air station. Now I’m getting an opportunity to get to know some of the moving parts here within the Wing, as well as some of the Marines and civilians that help support 2nd MAW.
Q: Assuming your new role, what will you draw from your prior career experience?
A: I’ve been fortunate to have many mentors throughout the years. One of the great things about the Marine Corps is it’s small enough where you get to know Marines over many years. I’ve had the privilege of working with Maj. Gen. Walters before, and he’s been kind enough to give me the benefit of his experience. You do learn from those who have gone before, and over a career you do several deployments and learn about the expeditionary nature of the Marine Corps, whether it’s at sea, in the desert or in the jungle. What I’ve learned most over the years is that no matter what the background, Marines are pretty much the same.
Q: What do you like most about being a Marine?
A: It’s great to be with other Marines and do the things we’re asked to do. One of things I love is we’re from all over. Think about it, where else do you get the opportunity to meet other people from across our nation and learn about where they’re from and what’s important to them? That’s one of the real treats of being a Marine. I wouldn’t consider it particularly unique, but I love being a Marine and being around Marines. I’m continually inspired by the professionalism of the Marines around me.
Q: What attributes do you look for in a leader?
A: I call it the three C’s. First is competence, learning to perform your specialty. Second is character, which speaks to our core values as Marines. The last one is compassion, which is the importance of the relationships Marines have with one another, including subordinates, peers and superiors.
Q: What would be your advice for a new young Marine first stepping onto the air station?
A: I would tell him he’s going to be a part of a great organization. He’s going to be doing an important mission, ultimately in support of our national objectives. Come onboard, get to know your noncommissioned officer, work hard and good things will happen.