October 10, 2012 9:56:00 AM
Carmen K. Sisson - [email protected]
What do a general, a brigadier general, a president and computer entrepreneur have in common?
All four men -- Colin Powell, the late Robert Olds, George Washington and the late Steve Jobs -- are role models for Col. Jim Sears, the new wing commander of the 14th Flying Training Wing at Columbus Air Force Base.
Sears, who replaced former wing commander Col. Barre Seguin in June, spoke to the Columbus Rotary Club Tuesday, taking the opportunity to introduce Rotarians to both his leadership style and his vision for the base.
As a proponent of "quiet leadership," Sears places a high emphasis on integrity, service and excellence, trying to instill those qualities in everyone who works or trains at the base.
Many joined the United States Air Force after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he noted. Though they knew the nation was at war and they would be called upon to serve, they followed a higher call -- service to something greater than themselves.
It is a philosophy which Sears embraces as he goes through his day, which he admits is filled with highs and lows, both literally and figuratively.
As commander, he is in charge of more than 3,200 military, civilian and contract airmen, 234 aircraft and a budget in excess of $140 million. But his mind is always on the clock, trying to meet the rigorous schedule required to ensure every student pilot earns the coveted silver wings.
Right now, he is busy preparing the base for a combined unit inspection in February. During that time, CAFB's operations will be closely-scrutinized for operational readiness and unit and logistics compliance.
Though he feels certain the base will have no trouble passing inspection, it's a good chance to show off the things that make it "the greatest pilot training base" in the nation, he said.
Community support is an equally critical component of CAFB's success, and Columbus has become known for its close relationship with the base, making CAFB a "base of choice" for airmen trying to choose where they want to earn their wings, he said.
The 12,000-foot runway, currently being resurfaced, is also a point of pride. It is the second longest runway east of the Mississippi River, and it is the longest runway in the state.
"That runway is a treasure and is one of the things that makes Columbus unique," Sears said.
The repaving project is slated to begin in March and be completed by October 2013.
Sears, who was commissioned in 1991, previously served as commander of the 20th Operations Group at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina.
He is a command pilot, with more than 3,100 flying hours, including combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. Awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit and the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device.
He was promoted to colonel in October 2009.
Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.