Leading the way for defenders of the wing

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Charles Taylor
  • 301st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

In the 301st Fighter Wing Security Forces Squadron, they have a slogan "Defenders lead the way!" For Senior Master Sgt. Theodis James Jr., 301 FW SFS operations superintendent, this motto has become a way of life.

James' journey to superintendent covers 28 years of U.S. military service, spending 14 years in both the Army and Air Force, and he has been part of the wing's SFS since September 2015. Prior to joining the wing, he was a Grounds Combat Skills Instructor for the 610th SFS, which was part of 22nd Air Force before it was shut down.

James has learned much through his professional career, and he takes a lot of pride in having the experience expand into multiple branches of the military.

“Something that stands out is being able to serve in two branches of the armed forces successfully,” he said. “Only 1% of the world’s population serve our nation in a military capacity, and I’ve had the pleasure of doing it twice.”

For a career to last as long as the one James is currently serving, it doesn’t happen with receiving good advice, along with having a support system to help.

“The best advice I was given was early on in my military career, which was learn how to master the art of integrity and tact,” he said. “As for support, my parents always believed in me and never allowed me to quit, and my wife and children have been my biggest supporters and cheering squad.”

While James gives credit to the support group he has outside of work, the one he has on-duty, in the form of the squadron’s supervisory staff, is also important to have in his career.

The supervisory staff is comprised of a mixture of full-time and part-time defenders. There is Traditional Reservist commander, a TR operations officer, a TR logistics officer, a TR first sergeant, an Active Guard Reserve security action officer, a junior AGR and James as the superintendent.

Every defender with boots on the ground plays a critical part in the development of the up-and-coming defenders, while accomplishing the squadron’s mission.

“Our mission is to provide top notch, dynamic security and law enforcement training,” he said. “It helps to ensure our defenders are world-wide deployable.”

Every squadron within the 301 FW has their individual responsibility tie into the wing’s mission -- to train and deploy combat ready Airmen. SFS is no different, and James explains how.

“We tie into the wing’s priority by ensuring that our defenders meet all essential training task, stay mentally and physically fit and try to maintain all readiness items at or above the AF standard,” he said. “My goal as a superintendent is to first set the example for our defenders and be the best wingman I can be, and my other goal is to ensure that the commander’s intent is followed and carried out to the best of my ability.”

These defenders play a key part of the wing’s overall success, and James shares some of the characteristics needed from each member.

“Defenders are consistently faced with operating in austere conditions and going toward the threat when others are running from it,” he said. “Our defenders are charged with making split- second decisions that can be the difference between life and death of themselves and potentially others.”

James shared something else about the Airmen he watches over and security forces as a whole.

“I wish people knew that defenders, despite how cold and serious we look and how carless we may seem, are really fair and consistent people.” he said. “We would do anything under the sun to help our fellow Airmen survive and succeed.”

James takes that to heart and is motivated instill those qualities into his Airmen.

“My favorite part of the job is mentoring young defenders and watching them grow and transition into true leaders,” he said. “I am driven by my family and not failing our defenders.”

With 28 years of military experience, and he offers this advice that has helped him be successful.

“Stay focused on the end state, set long and short-term goals, believe in yourself, be fair and consistent and be someone who excels from merit and not from favor,” he said. Don’t be afraid of failure, because every great leader has dealt with some type of adversity throughout their career.”

Being able to serve his country in the SFS career field takes on an extra special meaning this week, which is dedicated to law enforcement. The significance of this isn’t lost on James.

“Law enforcement week means to show our first responder brothers and sisters that they are appreciated for their service to the community,” he said. “It’s especially about honoring the families of the first responders that have made the ultimate sacrifice.”






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