This is the third of six posts originally done on Facebook in June of 2020. The sixth will be posted on and in honor of Veterans Day. The focus is on gratitude toward others. These experiences among many others shaped the successful military career I enjoyed due to the unselfish mentorship from others along the way.
3 of 6
Busted the launch off the Indy. Or was it the Kitty Hawk? Don’t remember for sure, I’d have to verify in a cruise book to see when our time together lined up. None the less, our shop had a very poor showing and it cost us a launch. Maybe that’s not a big deal to the airlines, but it is when you’re afloat and your plane is supposed to be up there providing airborne early warning duties!
The walk to Maintenance Control in these cases is a long one, especially if you’re the shift supervisor for your shop. That’s where all the Maintenace Chiefs are, and let me tell you, they are gonna have questions they want answered. And you’re gonna have to own it- no excuses! Otherwise known as a garden variety *ss-chewin’, some professional re-calibration, and/or get things fixed, NOW.
Only this time we had a new boss. He was known as a local legend in our parts, the Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF). He was also known to be no nonsense and didn’t put up with a whole lot of crap. We were here to get a job done, period. Such thoughts had escalated my anxiety beyond the already high enough levels because I hadn’t yet made this trip into HIS Maintenace Control.
But what I experienced was quite different than the rumored lore. He asked a few questions to set the stage regarding what we did (or maybe didn’t do?), asked me what our plan was to correct it, how we were going to get the plane fixed and make the next launch. I shared everything I could think of, he challenged a few of my ideas, told me to let the Flight Deck Chief know if we needed anything, and sent me on my way.
I don’t remember if we made that next launch or not honestly. I do remember a pretty good leader who continued to challenge us all as shop supervisors, led us toward the right answers instead of directing us (for the most part), and even allowed us a few mistakes along the way to encourage learning. Cool, calm, collected. He handed out appreciation for a job well done a lot more than less than motivating tactics others used. He was also tough on us when we needed it. Remember, no excuses.
It took me a lot longer to even remotely emulate some of his qualities than I care to admit, but his example has stuck with me for a very long time. Even to this day when I screw it up and lose my cool, I sometimes reflect on how I could have handled it better. Handle it like the good Master Chief did.