New vice commander begins Keesler immersion

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Heather Heiney
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Imagine having the opportunity to walk along the beaches of Normandy on the 40th anniversary of D-Day, swim in a volcanic crater in Iceland, see the pyramids of Giza and Mt. Ararat from 30,000 feet or watch St. Elmo's fire dance around the cockpit of an aircraft while the northern lights illuminate the sky.

Col. René Romero, the new 81st Training Wing vice commander, said all those experiences were brought on by his opportunities in the Air Force.

"If anything interesting has happened in my life, it's been through my service to my country," Romero said.

"Everything you do in life prepares you for what you're doing at this very moment," he said. "You're called at that moment by your nation, by God, by whomever, to do whatever you're doing at that very moment and your job is to do the very best you can."

Right now, Romero said he is called as a vice commander and a senior officer to mentor, lead, be loyal to his commander, give his people what they need to succeed and help the general achieve his goals.

"I can look back on all my experiences and see how little bits and pieces of every job have made me the leader that I am today," he said. "But that's true for everybody; you just have to realize it."

The colonel comes to Keesler from his position as the chief of the operations directorate command and control division for the U.S. Central Command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. He has been stationed around the United States and overseas including bases in Iceland and Japan.

After completing his bachelor's degree in finance business administration from the University of Texas, Romero was commissioned in 1990. Since then, he has accumulated more than 3,700 flying hours as a master air battle manager and received several awards and decorations including the Defense Superior Service Medal.

A husband and a father with three kids ages 11, 9 and 7, Romero said he and his family are happy to be at Keesler and to live on base in a safe and secure environment.

He also said he and his family love to explore every new place they are stationed and he will bring that exploration not only into the local community, but to his official duties as vice commander.

"I like to ask questions," Romero said. "Especially in a wing like this that's so diverse and with the position that I'm in, I have to understand how things work and fit together."

Now that he's at Keesler, Romero said he enjoys meeting the new Airmen straight out of basic military training and he looks forward to the opportunity to influence, train and guide the future of the Air Force on the path to success in their careers.

"Sometimes being the leader is the easy job," he said, "It's our people who are doing all the hard work -- getting in the weeds and making things happen. All you have to do is give them a little direction, a little vision, and then let them run and they're going to go out there and do great things."