Gen. Higby takes charge

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Stephan Coleman
  • 81st Training Wing
Brig. Gen. Patrick Higby, 81st Training Wing commander, has spent two weeks touring various squadrons under his command to integrate himself with the base mission, operations and personnel.

Higby is familiar with command at various levels, so these immersions were mostly about displaying what makes Keesler unique.

"The most unique aspect of the immersion based on my background was the training group," said Higby. "What I learned within minutes of my tour is that it's a very finely tuned machine, and we have to be careful about minor adjustments that can have unintended consequences. I'm proud of the men and women who keep this machine running to forge the most remarkable and innovative Airmen in the world."

The 81st Training Group, first on the base immersion tour, started with a briefing on the training mission, and introduced the 81st Training Support Squadron's trainer development center, multiple Triangle facilities, student living areas, and the technical training schoolhouses of the 333rd, 334th, 335th, 336th and 338th Training Squadrons.

"It was a full day for General Higby, but as an organization we were able to showcase our mission, how we accomplish it, and how we provide warfighters to the fight," said Lt. Col. Jeffery McLemore, 81st TRG deputy commander. "Additionally, General Higby was able to gain first-hand accounts of what is happening from the uniquely valuable student and instructor perspectives."

McLemore pointed out that each squadron commander was given an opportunity to highlight a portion of his or her team. Higby's time in the training group was extended compared to the other groups so that each squadron could display its talents.

The 338th TRS displayed where students setup and work on deployable airfield systems and several other noteworthy areas of the Dark Knight squadron, led by Lt. Col. Michelle Carns.

Lieutenant Col. Paul Griffin, 336th TRS commander, highlighted network certification processes and how the Red Wolves are integral in providing the network warriors of tomorrow.

The tour of the 334th TRS afforded Maj. Kevin Bray, squadron commander, the opportunity to showcase his Gators during Higby's integration into command post, air traffic control, airfield management and aviation resources career field.

The 335th TRS commander Lt. Col. Dorene Ross focused on the diversity of the squadron and the joint integration of the Navy and Marine personnel.

The tour ended with Lt. Col. Whitney McCloud the commander of the 333rd TRS Spartans. As a cyber officer, Higby was able to relate to much of what Lt. Col. McCloud and his squadron offered to the fight.

"Although it was a brief snapshot of what we do day-in and day-out, the vision and passion was on display and the training group was proud to show what the wing's training mission is all about," said McLemore.

The last week of his immersion took him through the medical group which maintains one of the largest medical facilities in the Air Force.

"We had a great time showing General Higby the wonderful and innovative health care practices that his medics are doing every day," said Brig. Gen. Kory Cornum, 81st MDG commander.

Higby moved from the medical center to more familiar ground in the facets of the mission support group.

"Our focus, because General Higby has previously been a mission support group and installation commander, was on people and places and not as much on our mission," said 1st Lt. Daniel Wright, 81st MSG executive officer.

The various areas around the base focused on highlighting the Airmen that power it.

"Each agency chief introduced their people and spoke on how their missions are different at Keesler compared to another wing," said Maj. Jayson Cabell, who commands the wing staff agencies.

With the vast amount of information taken in during his immersion tour, Higby is confident and eager about moving forward.

"The immersion will be a continual process," said Higby. "I will endeavor to continue to learn more as the magnitude of the tour still only covered the wave tops. I still have many other areas to cover and look forward to revisiting the Airmen I've met so far."