Loadmaster brings balance to rescue wing enlisted force

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Cathleen Snow
  • 920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs
Precision computation of weight, balance and cargo distribution on HC-130 cargo aircraft is attributed to the aircraft loadmaster; vital to the plane's ability to take off and fly right.
In a ceremony held here May 7, one 920th Rescue Wing loadmaster will be carrying over these duties to the position as the wing command chief.
Command Chief Master Sgt. Bill Gatlin was selected as the top enlisted man here and his new role draws a parallel from his long career as an aircraft loadmaster as it is vital to balancing the wing and its ability to fly right.
Command Chief Gatlin replaced Command Chief Master Sgt. Michael Schooley upon his retirement. Chief Schooley served as command chief for the wing from April 1, 2003, through March 31.
Coming from the flying operations side of things, Command Chief Gatlin will set a new precedent. Although he will no longer consider factors such as fuel load, aircraft structural limits and emergency equipment requirements, his new pre-flight inspection checklist will be to apply his technical expertise to a healthy enlisted force.
The new command chief said he wants to focus his initial efforts in two areas: Leadership development opportunities for every Airman and organizational structure review.
"When short suspense opportunities arise to deploy a reservist, I want to encourage all 920th Airmen to take advantage of such opportunities to enrich and develop them as leaders and mentors," said Chief Gatlin.
As far as organizational structure review, the Chief said, "In some ways, the Reserve is organized differently than the active duty. For instance, there are different layers of supervision. I want to work to make our organizational structure more functional and streamlined," he said.
Another area he's looking to improve upon is communication methods within the wing. He wants to ensure everyone is getting the message, down to the lowest Airman.
These are just a few of the challenges he said he will initially address.
"I will be out and about communicating with supervisors and first sergeants on a regular basis," said the chief to include the two 920th geographically separated units: the 943rd Rescue Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., and the 304th Rescue Squadron at Portland, Ore.
He also wants all Airmen to know he will address every issue, but advises the best way to begin the process is at the lowest level, by telling your immediate supervisor through the use of your chain of command.
Prior to being appointed as the command chief, he served as a standards and evaluations loadmaster for the 920th Operations Group and prior to that as loadmaster superintendent for the 39th Rescue Squadron, as well as for the 332nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Like a back end operator who avoids the limelight, Chief Gatlin seems to be approaching his new job modestly, but all aircraft commanders know their aircraft will not go the distance without balance and guidance.
"I'm honored to represent the best combat rescue Airman in the world," said Command Chief Gatlin.