Commander reflects on his career and aspirations

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kristin Mack
  • 301st Fighter Wing
When Colonel Max Mendoza was asked to take command of the 301st Mission Support Group it was a dream come true. Before arriving here, he had always aspired to command his own unit and planned his career to achieve that goal.

Now, four years later, he will take the invaluable training and experience gained here to embark on a position that encapsulates his entire profession.

Brigadier General Robert E. Bailey, Director of Installations and Mission Support at Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command, asked Colonel Mendoza to join his staff in the new A7Z division as the chief of Agile Combat Support/Expeditionary Combat Support.

He will be overseeing AFRC's role in ACS/ECS doctrine, developing concepts of operation, and ensuring that AFRC has the capability to contribute, achieve and accomplish the ACS/ECS mission.

He will also be responsible for integrating all of the many functions of the mission support groups to ensure that they're able to perform the ACS/ECS mission. Unlike other functional areas in AFRC, the MSG had lacked someone to go to at the headquarters level - until now.

"I'm excited that I will be directly contributing to our war efforts - Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and anything having to do with expeditionary combat support or war fighting," said Colonel Mendoza. "I'll be deploying to the AOR (area of responsibility), visiting a lot of units, doing a lot of ORIs (operational readiness inspections), exercises all over the world, and attending conferences."

His current and previous assignments, including two deployments to the AOR, have collectively provided him with the background and experience needed for this position.
"I'm a career cop," he said. "There is only so much you can do in the functional area and I've done everything I could do in the security forces career field. The next step was to be a mission support group commander ... the highest calling an officer can aspire to is to command."

His responsibilities here consisted of leading approximately 630 military and civilian personnel assigned to eleven support units: bioenvironmental, civil engineer, services, mission support, security forces, communications, logistic readiness, contracting, civilian personnel, aerial port and honor guard.

"It's been everything I anticipated and more," Colonel Mendoza said. "Having been to different bases, I can compare this base to other bases and can say without question, this is the finest, most proactive, most lean-forward, fastest moving, and really motivated organization I've ever been to."

Throughout his time here there have been many successes and accomplishments within the group.

"If they needed cops - security forces - to go to Iraq, we've always stood up and said we'll handle it," remarked Colonel Mendoza. "We've had to deploy services across the pond to OIF or OEF; they needed our expertise in downloading FEMA vehicles for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and we've always stood up. Any time we've been called upon to handle something, we've never turned down a tasking."

The hard work has obviously paid off. The 301st MSG won the Air Force Association Citation of Honor Award for 2006 as did the Honor Guard in 2005; APS and LRS won outstanding unit of the year awards; everyone did extremely well during the Unit Compliance Inspection and the list goes on.

"When he leaves, it will be a big loss," said Colonel Kevin Pottinger, 301st Fighter Wing commander. "He is so deeply engaged in all areas his replacement will have big shoes to fill."

Colonel Pottinger has asked him to stay until the next AEF cycle deploys. He will be reporting to his new position at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., in June.

"I'm going to miss this place," said Colonel Mendoza. "The 301st MSG will continue to do very, very well when I leave here. They accomplished the mission when I was deployed - that is a sign of a very healthy organization. I'm leaving a very healthy, combat-ready, motivated, poised and well-trained organization."
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