Focus on the journey, not the destination

As a military officer, the title of this blog entry is relatively counter intuitive. In many ways, we are taught to focus on the destination (or mission end state) rather than how to get there. Significant planning goes into every mission with the commander’s intent driving the planning process towards the desired end state. But once on a mission, the simple directive is to accomplish the mission. It’s only with experience you begin to anticipate some of the significant events that could occur during a mission and minimize the impacts to the best of your ability. That being the case, the purpose, key tasks and end state which combine to make the commander’s intent, keep the organization headed in the right direction despite any distractions.

This line of thinking does not necessarily work well in our most important job: parenting. I’ve been fortunate to have some time off the past month and a half during our recent Permanent Change of Station (PCS) from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) to Ft. Bliss, TX. With an impending deployment and a May 13th report date, we were committed to making the most of our time together as a family. I’ve never been to as many zoos, bounce houses, trampoline parks, and children’s museums as I had this past month. It was incredible and I would not trade that time for anything.

I signed out of JBLM on April 13th, put my family on an airplane on April 14th, and started the 2,100 mile journey to Ft. Worth, Texas April 15th where we would start our leave together. We continued for about a week in Georgetown, then continued West to El Paso to in-process the installation, start house-hunting and finish pre-deployment requirements while camping out on the fourth floor of the Residence Inn. As you can imagine, 17 days in a hotel had its fair share of challenges. Yet the memories we made during that time was well worth it. After completing all requirements, we continued on to Tucson, AZ where Danielle and the kids (and Bowie) will remain during the deployment until on-post housing is available.

We spent the majority of the time off at home or at the neighborhood splash pad, pool or multitude of playgrounds. Yet, I had to continually fight the tendency to get to whatever specific event we were doing that day, rather than enjoying the time and memories happening along the way: Our daughter learning to ride a straddle bike while getting distracted pointing out multiple neighborhood pets or saguaro, smelling the desert flowers, asking about this or that, or our son toddling behind and pointing out every “ball!” then throwing the ball, sometimes into the street for Danielle or me to chase down. img_0241

All these events initially stirred something in me because it either slowed down or distracted our advance towards the end state – the splash pad, pool, or playground, inevitably delaying our departure from said location, which impacted our ability to eat lunch or dinner on time, which impacted our ability to start and finish bed time routine on time, which impacted out ability to finally spend some alone time as a couple.

The times I struggled with enjoying the journey, if not solved during the day, I addressed it that night, and resolved to do it better the next day. When I did this, it gave me a greater appreciation for the little milestones for which I was present, the cues into what made my kids tick, their interests and desires magnified while en route to the event we were conducting for the day. In short, it taught me the value of the journey en route to the destination.

If we are not careful and remain too focused on the destination, we will miss key insights into our children and influential milestones only observable when physically present. Time is our only non-renewable resource and our children’s seasons of growth go so quickly. When life events like a deployment or work trip make it impossible to enjoy those seasons in person, we risk looking back wishing we had engaged our family more and invested in quality time over quantity time.

I cannot overstate the value and gratitude I feel for the time off before this deployment and the memories made during that time. We made the most of our available time together and solidified quality time. Our smart phone pictures, videos and polaroids captured special moments from our vacation—most of which were from the journey, not the destination.



The views presented above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.

© Copyright 2019 M.C.Wingate. All Rights Reserved.

Our gifts are for more than the walls of the church

Ministry is not limited to those preaching from the pulpit on Sunday mornings. As a church body, some have forgotten we all have unique, God-given gifts that are meant for much more than the walls of a church building. I did. I have been in full time ministry for nearly 16 years and it took me 14 to figure out that ministry is my call and the Army my current assignment. Our gifts are meant for where we work, where we shop, where we sleep every night, and anywhere we walk in the world around us.

This morning’s departure was filled with a wave of emotions. The usual sadness associated with leaving loved ones for an extended period of time was paired with a great sense of anticipation as we took a step of faith and obedience to God’s current assignment. After Danielle and I hugged and kissed one last time for the next five months, we prayed together again. There was such an overwhelming sense of peace as I prayed for my family and covered them in prayer, said “see you soon,” and walked to the formation to prepare to board the bus for the airport.

This deployment already feels very different than any of the other five. With a 0230 wake up, you would think fatigue would be the overwhelming feeling. But unexpectedly, peace and joy overcame me as she Chaplain invited the interested Soldiers from the 200+ flight to a brief Chapel service in the next room.  I heard the Lord say, “Bring the oil.” So, I did.

I introduced myself to the Chaplain and let him know if he was interested at the end of the service, I would like to come along side of him and anoint those that are interested prior to our departure. As he spoke on Psalms 37:4, I kept hearing the Lord bring the story of King Jehosophat in 2 Chronicles 20 to my spirit-a word given to my wife, Danielle months ago.

“After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. ‘Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever!’”[1]In verses 22 through 24 we find the enemy armies turned against and destroyed each other in mass confusion! “Then all the men returned to Jerusalem, with Jehosophat leading them, overjoyed that the Lord had given them victory over their enemies. They marched into Jerusalem to the music of harps, lyres, and trumpets, and they proceeded to the Temple of the Lord…So Jehosophat’s kingdom was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.”[2]

God sent the worshippers in front of the Army. This was an unconventional approach to combat, but we see God using it here and with Joshua at the battle of Jericho. After an incredible time of communion, the Chaplain and I began to pray for the believers, over 50 in attendance. Many came forward for anointing and the Holy Spirit gave me a different word for each person. It was a powerful time of worship! As Pastor Landon Schott says, “we do not make room for the Holy Spirit, we give Him the room.” He was there.

As I begin this assignment, I have never been more convinced of the importance of being faithful where we are planted with excellence, using our God-given spiritual gifts to further His kingdom in the world around us, and showing the love of Christ through obedience to His calling. In a message from May 19th, Pastor Waylon Sears said, “87% of church-goers have a spiritual gift and don’t know how to use it. When we are not using our spiritual gifts, not only do we miss out, the world misses out. ”[3]

Our spiritual gifts are not just for the walls of the church building-they are for the lost in the world around us. We have a responsibility to develop those gifts through daily surrender and growth in our quiet times, discipleship and being planted locally with fellow believers. As believers in whatever ministry we are currently assigned-vocational ministry, military, business, teaching, barista, home-maker, coach etc.-we are called to point others to the Cross of Jesus Christ by utilizing our spiritual gifts and serving faithfully with excellence, showing the love of Christ in our word and actions.



The views presented above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.

© Copyright 2019 M.C.Wingate. All Rights Reserved.


[1]Holy Bible, 2 Chronicles 20:21, NLT, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007, 2015 Tyndle House Foundation.

[2]Holy Bible, 2 Chronicles 20:27-30, NLT, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007, 2015 Tyndle House Foundation.

[3]“Beginner’s Guide to the Apocalypse,” Sermon dated 19 May 2019, Victory Worship Center, Tucson, AZ

New Year, New Day

New year, New day

A lot of focus is placed on new beginnings in the new year and New Year’s resolutions. Fresh start, fresh priorities, fresh vision for the year ahead. Most people long to be better at the beginning of the year-better in our health, better as a husband or wife, better as a leader. Treating every day with the same anticipation, outlook and sense of expectancy infuses those we serve with an optimism that can spread like wildfire.  As leaders, one of the most important things we can do is start every day as if it is the new year.

Leading Soldiers for fifteen years in various positions of responsibility in Army Aviation and the Army Medical Department has taught me the importance of starting every day as a New Year. Three deployments, two to Iraq and one to Afghanistan taught me to value that day because you never know when it could be your last. Part of my responsibility as an Army MEDEVAC pilot was to fly into battle and transport the wounded to the hospital while the medics in the back worked relentlessly to ensure the wounded made it to the hospital alive.   More often than not, our mission was successful and we made it to the hospital with the patient and handed him or her off to the trauma team at the Combat Support Hospital to continue the incredible effort of saving the Service members’ life.

As soon as the mission was complete, one of the most effective ways to ensure we were ready for the next was to begin every mission with a fresh mindset, a sense of urgency, and a new level of expectation. Coping mechanisms of the imagery of war spanned from avoidance to humor and everything in between. Lives on the battlefield depended on us putting the last mission behind us and focusing on the next. The weight of some missions were far too heavy to focus on the last mission; there was only the next mission, the next day. It’s not too different as a leader in whatever industry you may work.

Here’s a few tips to start off the New Year with the right mindset:

  1. Adopt an Attitude of Anticipation.  Every day brings its own set of challenges. Part of my leadership philosophy for our team is to think, anticipate, and adapt to every day’s priorities.  To anticipate is to take action in preparation for something you think will happen. An attitude of anticipation implies pro-activity, forethought, and an attitude of optimism. We are expecting what’s coming next and what we’ve already seen through the vision we laid out for our organization. Going into the new day with a higher level of anticipation of your requirements, your capabilities, and leading your team will not only change the attitude of your team, it will change the culture of your organization. Every new day is a chance to start over with anticipation for the making the impossible possible.
  2. Adapt to each day’s challenges. Misperceptions and misunderstandings can often lead to disappointments that could potentially derail the forward momentum of the organization. All the best intentions often require buy in, unity, and follower-ship. If we rest in the disappointments of today, we risk missing the expectation and possibility of the new day. Those we lead depend on us to focus on the new day with a fresh sense of optimism, anticipation, and expectation.
  3. Approach each day like it’s the New Year.  This mindset ensures we are prepared mentally to tackle the next day and give those we serve our very best. Focusing on the failures and disappointments of yesterday and resting in our successes too long offer ours teams no favors for today or tomorrow. It is important to celebrate the small victories with our teams. Yet, we do not want to remain stagnant in either our failures or our success; it distracts us from achieving our vision of tomorrow.

The New Year begins with a new day. Start with a sense of optimism that will catapult your team towards the vision you hope to achieve. Treat every day of this year with the same anticipation, outlook and sense of expectancy you feel today. Those we serve depend on us having this outlook every day.



The views presented above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.

With the Big 12 conference going 7-3 in opening weekend, the kickoff to the college football season was overall a pretty solid showing for the Big 12. However, with those wins mostly against FCS competition, we really have not learned much about the strength of the conference. One thing we did learn is how much our fans have to learn about college football as a whole in the College Football Playoff (CFP) era.

Despite the early season annual prop-in-pimp in the rankings by ESPN, the Tom Herman-led Longhorn-era began with a loud thud against ACC team Maryland. Matt Rhule’s first game with Baylor did not fare much better as an FCS school, Liberty University of the Big South Conference, came into McLane Stadium and put up 585 yards of offense on a team rebuilding in the wake of the Art Briles’ saga and strutted away with a victory. West Virginia looked solid against Virginia Tech but couldn’t find the defense it needed to stop Virginia Tech down the stretch, nor the offense to drive home the tying score with less than a minute left.

As a TCU grad, two of my three favorite games every season are against the Longhorns and Bears. This goes back to the Southwest Conference (SWC) struggles and journey TCU traveled from a mid-major program to a strong member of the Big 12. As with any former rival, Texas A&M’s 34–point collapse against UCLA brought me joy. Not so with the loss of the Longhorns and the Bears. The Aggies are not in the Big 12 and their failure does not directly or indirectly impact TCU’s journey towards the National Championship. The Aggies’ loss doesn’t impact the image of the Big 12 conference, rather the image of the SEC. The Longhorns’ and Bears’ loss does.

In a perfect college football world, every team in the Big 12 would win every game on their schedule but TCU. All Big 12 fans should feel the same way about their respective teams. When Big 12 fans cheer for the failure of their conference foes during non-conference games or bowl season no matter how much we dislike them is counterproductive to the goal of a national championship. Every game counts. Every non-conference loss by a Big 12 team hurts the image of the conference in the eyes of the fans that pay attention to the media, the eyes of the media that drive the narrative, and ultimately the decision makers in at the CFP Committee. The overall process of the semi-subjective nature of the CFP Committee does not allow for much failure during non-conference play. It does not allow for more than a loss or two during conference play. Both speak to the overall strength of the team and the conference in the eyes of the media and ultimately the CFP Committee.

Anyone who pays attention to the CFP knows the importance of “the eye test” to the committee and their hand, ESPN. If a highly ranked team beats everyone on their schedule and at the end of the year everyone on their schedule has one loss, the playoff committee would have no reason to exclude that team as long as they “pass the eye test.” The eye test is terminology ESPN coined during the inception of the CFP Playoff to justify schools like TCU dropping three spots to #6 out of playoff contention despite beating Iowa State with Ohio State taking the #4 spot in 2014, and Ohio State earning the spot over Penn State last year despite not winning the Big 10 Conference and losing the head-to-head match to the Nittany Lions.

If TCU (#Go Frogs!) beats UT and Baylor later this year, their victory looks that much more insignificant in the eyes of the playoff committee as a result of their early season loss. That isn’t to say both teams can’t rebound from their early season bump. But even if UT and Baylor go undefeated between now and then and finish with one loss, most would rather their team beat an undefeated UT and Baylor team. Both having only one loss by season’s end is unlikely. But the point remains the same: Victories over teams with better records at the end of the year helps catapult the victor into the CFP, (see Ohio State 2014 and 2017 season). So why did the majority of the Big 12 fans cheer for the failure of Texas and Baylor during opening weekend? That mentality during non-conference play is counterproductive to unity of purpose and any Big 12 team’s journey to the national championship and it needs to change.

A few suggestions going forward for the Big 12 Conference and their fans:

  1. Take a lesson from the SEC. The SEC consistently markets the entire strength and unity of the conference and the media and the SEC fans consistently buy into the narrative despite the SEC only having Alabama and maybe one (LSU?) or two (Georgia?) flagship teams year after year. After the #4 LSU vs. $3 Oregon Cowboys Classic at Jerry World to kick off the 2011 college football season, the Tigers won 40-27. As the final minutes of the game came to a close, the 87,000+ predominantly LSU-clad fans didn’t chant “LSU! LSU! LSU!” They chanted, “SEC! SEC! SEC!” That’s the power of marketing and product placement and more importantly, unity. Each conference school needs to market the Big 12 as much as they market their respective schools. I can only speak for TCU and Baylor home games and TCU does this well.
  2. As the strength of the conference emerges as the year goes along, cheer for those teams in addition to your team. Those are the teams that give us the best chance to make the CFP. The SEC, Big 10 and ACC each have one championship in the first three years of the Playoff. It is the Big 12’s turn. This year, it will probably come down to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State or TCU. Cheer for an undefeated non-conference schedule and bowl season for every Big 12 team. If every Big 12 team goes undefeated going into conference play, most would start their season 4-0. That’s two wins away from bowl eligibility.
  3. Let go of the pre-playoff mindset. It’s a new era in college football and the Big 12 teams, outside of Oklahoma and Texas, very little room for error if they hope to win a National Championship. The eye test is directly related to wins and wins over teams with wins. Admission to the CFP is indirectly (at least publicly) related to the strength of the portfolio the team brings to the table (i.e. value of the program, how the team travels, licensing, ticket sales, attendance, etc). However, all those factors are minimized with an undefeated or one-loss team that controls what they can (see University of Washington 2016).

We will learn a little more about the strength of this year’s Big 12 in week two. With Oklahoma traveling to the Horseshoe to play Ohio State, and TCU playing Arkansas in Fayetteville, those are the only two statement games for the conference this coming week. At the end of the day, a team controls its own destiny. Texas has a chance to rebound in week three against USC and Texas Tech against the Sun Devils of ASU. As a fan of the Frogs and the Big 12, it is in my best interest to be a fan of the Sooners, Red Raiders, and every other Big 12 team…until the play the Horned Frogs.Big 12


The views presented above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.


© Copyright 2017 M.C.Wingate. All Rights Reserved.

How to become a better fan in the Big 12

Thank you, Coach Friedli.

It is a challenge to accurately capture a tribute fitting for someone who meant so much to so many people. A legend in high school football, Coach Vern Friedli held the title of the winningest coach in Arizona high school football until last season. But Coach Friedli’s impact extends far beyond the 331 wins, including 288 in 36 years of coaching at Amphitheater High School.

Yesterday, a flood of memories came back as I attended his “Celebration of Life” at the Amphi basketball arena in Tucson, Arizona. Just a glimpse of his impact was present in the crowd of more than 500 former players, friends, family members, and administrators. I remembered the first time I met Coach Friedli in the summer of 1997. Walking into the football weight room under the stadium, I took a left and saw Coach sitting at his desk. I walked up to him and introduced myself as he stood to shake hands. He was all of 5’8” 165-ish lbs, fit, confident, with kind eyes. He was smaller than I expected but you wouldn’t know it when you talked to him. His fiery personality and impact would soon extend further and higher than his physical stature ever could.

During that first meeting, we sat down and discussed why I transferred to Amphi and wanted to play for the Panthers. Having attended Palo Verde Christian (PVC) for two years, I felt led to take the leap to public school to reach the lost. I wanted my life and my words to lead people to Christ. I also wanted to play football for the best. Coach Friedli and his Panthers were the best in Tucson and everyone knew it. Surprised yet un-phased by my words, Coach welcomed me to the team and gave me a blank 3×5 card. He told me to take it home and write down my personal and team goals for the upcoming year and bring it back to him. Coach Friedli ensured goals were a foundation of the culture of his program and his players.

Coach Friedli 97

I would go on to play and start for Coach Friedli for two seasons. As huge underdogs my first year, we’d fall just short of the 1997 5A Arizona State Championship to Mesa Mountain View 28-24. Their team was led by future NFL hall of fame tight end, Todd Heap. Our scrappy, hard-nosed, wishbone-running team had the game locked up until an erroneous game-changing fumble by Mountain View, inaccurately ruled down after the whistle, and a later failed 4th and 1. We gave relentless effort and fought to the end-as his teams always did.

He’s the coach that got through to me-as only a coach could. One day I wanted to be rebellious and dye my hair with hydrogen peroxide, without my parent’s approval. I’ll never forget showing up for football practice that day with an orange-ish/yellow hair color and hearing Coach yell before I even set foot on the field to stretch, “Wingate, it looks like a horse pissed on your head.” He was right. He never hesitated to be direct, yet honest in his approach to get through to his players.

Towards the end of my senior year, after my parents, coach was the first to encourage and support my goal of attending Texas Christian University (TCU) as a walk-on for the Horned Frogs.  As a contributor to my high school team, hardly a star, this seemed like a lofty goal. Yet, Coach Friedli did not hesitate to extend his support. I watched the Frogs upset the Carson Palmer-led Trojans in the Sun Bowl, and felt like the Frogs had grit, ran the ball and fought just like a Friedli team.  Vern would coach me in the off-season prior to my departure to Fort Worth in preparation for my redshirt freshman season at TCU. When I left and told him thank you, he simply said, “Make your mother proud.”

That day in the weight room he told me about a coach he ran into from PVC at the airport shortly after I’d transferred to Amphi. That coach told him, “You know, Wingate will never play for you. He’s not that good.” Coach laughed with pride and a tone of confidence as only Coach could as he said, “Well, you showed him!” Again, Coach saw something in me I didn’t even see in myself. He believed in all of us, each one of his players.

He believed in hard work. He valued discipline. He modeled integrity. He demanded relentless effort. He cared for his players and wanted them to “make their mother proud.” He fought for those who couldn’t fight for themselves. He valued the team more than the individual yet somehow let each individual know he cared.  He gave his all to develop young men of character. He called out the best in each of us.

Coach taught me to never be satisfied with the status quo. He taught me to fight until I hit a brick wall then go around it, over it or through it. Coach taught me to scrap and fight for what’s right, that’s what his teams did. Ask Todd Heap and the 1997 Mesa Mountain View Toros. I’m sure they remember.

Leaving Coach Friedli’s Celebration of Life yesterday reminded me of the value of leaving a legacy. It reminded me of the fragility of life and making the most of our time here on earth and the greatest impact possible. Coach’s legacy extended far beyond the win column; his legacy was in that basketball arena on the Amphi campus. His legacy is leaders in business, the military, teaching, family, and life. Just as we held up four fingers signifying the last quarter of the game and the importance of finishing strong, his legacy is leaders that do not know how to quit.

At the end of the ceremony, his youngest son, Ted, called all the former players to the arena floor. Hundreds took a knee to say one final prayer with a video recording of Coach praying in the background as he did with us before every football game. That day he planted a seed in the hearts of all the men and women present one more time:

Let’s pray. Pray in your own way. Pray not to win, God willing we shall. We pray that you give a great effort tonight. Thank God He allowed you to play football for Amphi High School. And we thank God that he allowed us to coach you. Good luck, God bless, and we love you. Amen.


That prayer had much more depth than I ever realized as a high school kid. That prayer spoke to the importance of unity of purpose and discipline. It spoke to his vision. It spoke to the value of diversity. It spoke to sportsmanship. It spoke to discipline. It spoke to relentless effort.

It spoke to gratitude for opportunities and the value of seasons. It spoke to Coach’s humble heart and his stewardship of the awesome responsibility of shaping young men in unity, purpose, discipline, vision, diversity, sportsmanship, effort, and respect to the Creator.

Coach called out the leader in me. I take his lessons with me today as a professional Soldier. Coach is greatly responsible for my drive and relentless effort as an Army Officer. After my third deployment, this time to Afghanistan, I visited Coach and his wife, Sharon, to present them with a certificate of appreciation and a flag we flew on a mission during Operation Enduring Freedom as a thank you for his tremendous impact on my life.Coach Friedli Flag

A flag cannot adequately thank a man whose impact goes on long after he is gone. Words cannot adequately express gratitude to a man who put just as much, if not more, effort into building men than he did earning the 331 Wins in his coaching career. You don’t reach that mark without reaching hearts. 

Yesterday’s celebration reminded me of how grateful I was to know and play for a legend. It reminded me how honored I was to see the values instilled by my parents magnified and reinforced as only Coach could. Yesterday, I was reminded of the value of a season and the impact of one man and his teammate, Sharon. Spouses in the coaching profession and military do not necessarily get enough credit for their sacrifice in the shadows.

In Sharon’s case, she was out front standing beside him, supporting and investing in those young student-athletes just the same. However, the sacrifice she made to support and lift him up throughout his stellar career behind the scenes can hardly be quantified by anyone other than his family. The pictures playing on the screen at yesterday’s celebration of life showed Coach valued and invested in his family just as much if not more than his players. The love, respect, and admiration by his children in their speeches about their father were clearly evident.

Thank you, Coach. Thank you for your relentless effort and commitment to the players. Thank you for building men. Thank you for instilling the importance of fight no matter what your size. You may have been one of the shortest men in the room, but you were a giant. Although you are no longer here with us, your investment will continue yielding returns for years to come.

If you missed his Celebration of Life, check it out here:

To anyone reading this, what memories do you have of Coach that others might not know or might not remember? Leave a comment below as we honor his legacy.Coach Friedli


The views presented above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.

© Copyright 2017 M.C.Wingate. All Rights Reserved.


Be present. 

Bruce Arians, head coach of the Arizona Cardinals was recently quoted as saying to Alex Marvez and Geoff Schwartz on the SiriusXM Blitz, “For our coaches, I tell them, if you miss a recital or a football game or a basketball game, I’ll fire you. You can always come back and work. Those kids are not going to be there forever. They’re going to grow up and be gone.”

As a former intercollegiate athlete at TCU and current Army Officer, I’ve always seen the parallels between the work ethic of coaching and the military. As a relatively new father with an 18 month old daughter and son due in September, my responsibility as a husband and father has never been more evident and it is the greatest responsibility with which I’ve been entrusted. This responsibility is something some fathers in both professions miss. 

There are seasons and events we never want to miss. In the Army, in coaching sports, sometimes mission or the season dictates otherwise. That means we have a responsibility to make the most of the time we do have with our family while being present for what we can be present for, controlling what we can control with an adequate work-life balance. Quality time does not necessarily mean quantity time. 

Adequate work-life balance is essential to a healthy home and our role as husbands and fathers. In the Army, when our nation calls, we answer. However, above all else our God-given job is to lead our family first whether at home or abroad. If we do it right, the family will be there long after the Army is gone or the coaching career ends. 

Readiness is the #1 priority of our Army’s senior leaders. Too often we give lip-service to the concept of supporting the family while not truly walking it out. I truly believe support from your significant other through those challenging seasons we can’t control is essential to building readiness. If a Soldier knows they have the support of their spouse back home when deployed or at training, it helps foster a healthy culture where the Soldier knows they can focus on the mission we have been called to do. 

It is my responsibility to be present when home, to turn off my phone when able, and not check email when I could be playing with my daughter or talking to my wife about her day. Investing in my daughter and pursuing her heart is essential to her development and her perception of what a Godly man looks like. That image is also directly related to how well I pursue the heart of my wife.  That requires me to give her my undivided attention when I’m able. There are seasons it is not always possible in person. But when it is, fathers, leaders, coaches, we must be present. 


Change in Command_100Last week Danielle and I successfully completed 27 months of serving the Soldiers and Families of C/2-227 AVN REGT as their Commander. Passing the guidon to CPT(P) Dan Jones signaled the end to one of the most rewarding and challenging seasons of my military career.

Change in Command_91Dan Jones and his wife Rosemary are an amazing couple who will care for the Company Soldiers and Families and serve them faithfully. The Company is in excellent hands for the next chapter of its storied history. Below is my change of command speech. Thanks to all who attended, supported us from a distance, encouraged, and stood arm-in-arm with us through this awesome season!


COL Drennon, LTC Eberhardt, CSM Chapman, CSM Nutter, distinguished guests, friends, and the troopers and families of C Co, thank you for being here.

Although I know COL Baker could not be here, I would be remiss if I did not thank him and a few other leaders. Change in Command_93COL Baker, COL Thompson, COL Waters, LTC Eberhardt, LTC Steele, & LTC Asborno, I was honored to have the opportunity to serve under your leadership. Thank you for your coaching and mentorship throughout various seasons of this command.

I stood in this hangar 27 months ago and cast the vision for this company with great hope and expectation, “Before you today I see a company who is unified in their commitment to the authenticity, credibility and quality

Change in Command_123 of its heart. A company who dares to be themselves, yet lives secure in the knowledge that what they are part of is bigger than the part they play. ”

We set out to be RELENTLESS, to have an attitude or posture that is resolute, persistent, and unyielding in all we do. We set out to have a solid work-life balance while relentlessly pursuing the hearts of our families and
pursuing excellence in discipline, training, and unity at work. Witchdoctor DUSTOFF….Thank you for your relentless effort.

This Company has collectively completed 10 Combat Training Center rotations, deployed to EUCOM in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, nearly deployed to AFRICOM in the fight against Ebola, supported DCRF and DSCA, countless Air Mission Requests to almost every ground unit on post and many on other installations, divested 13 x UH-60A+ and acquired 15 x HH-60M.Change in Command_134 We conducted real world MEDEVAC support in Dahlonega, GA, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, and Poland and training in many other countries, and most recently at Fort Hood, TX in support of the search and rescue team…Charlie Company… You did all that… to Save a Life. You make the mission happen every day and you do it for our Army’s most important resource: the Soldier.

Thank you for your professionalism, devotion to serve, and the sacrifice you and your families make on a daily basis for the good of our unit, Army and country. As you progress in the military or move on to other endeavors, I encourage you to measure success by the lives you invest in and the legacy you leave behind in each chapter of your career. Businessman Henry Gruland said, “Being a leader is more than just wanting to lead. Leaders have empathy for others and a keen ability to find the best in people and a responsibility to believe the best, not the worst by truly caring for others.”

Change in Command_711SG Ocon, thank you for being relentless and challenging me for the greater good. Your true care for the Soldier is contagious. You performed as my 1SG long before you ever had the title and I thank you for the support, advice, trust, and commitment. I cannot wait to see what’s next for you and Maria and I know you will give CPT(P) Jones the same relentless commitment you gave me.

If there is anyone that knows how to believe the best, it is my bride, Danielle. She didn’t know what to expect as the FRG leader, a newlywed, and a commander’s wife all in the first year of marriage. Not having much exposure to the military prior to our marriage, she went in with eyes wide open… COL Thompson was talking to her after the ceremony and Danielle and I had yet to go over the Army rank structure so I wanted to ensure she knew this was my boss’s boss. She later told me she was glad I came over when I did, because was actually about to ask him, “So how long have you been in Charlie Company?” ……You know, although she may not have known at the time that the Soldier she was talking to was actually my boss’s boss, rest assured…… she knows now.

More importantly, what she did know was how to love people. From day one she cared for every family member and Soldier deeply.Change in Command_126 She cared for the spouses, the troopers,
and their children relentlessly. She was instrumental to our success. While we were deployed to EUCOM, she managed to balance a full time job and full time ministry at our church in Georgetown, while being pregnant, then raising a beautiful daughter, and continuing to invest in the families of this company. Danielle, thank you for your support and for everything you did. Thank you for being a sounding board and a teammate. There is no one else whom I would’ve wanted to walk this journey…there is no one else with whom I could’ve walked this journey. Thank you for being relentless to lead and serving well. Our success is largely due to you and I’m so grateful to call you my teammate and best friend.

Thanks to Beth, Yolanda, Bob, June and the rest of our Celebration Church family for walking beside her through quite possibly the toughest season she’s ever walked.

Dan and Rosemary, Danielle and I could not be more proud to hand off the company to Change in Command_132you. In the past month and a half we’ve spent time getting to know you both while building a friendship and we know your heart is for the Soldier. We cannot wait to see the next chapter for this company under your leadership. Not to mention this Company now has the DUSTOFF Aviator of the Year in CPT Jones AND the DUSTOFF two-time flight medic of the year in 1SG Ocon. WHAT?! If that isn’t the dynamic duo I don’t know what is! All kidding aside, Dan your humble nature and passion is palpable and I wish you the best in your command. Change in Command_106



Mom and Dad, thank you for making time to be here… I’m grateful to be your son and Dad…thanks

for being a Godly father figure to model at home and at work. Thanks for being an example worth following.


Thanks to the ACB, my fellow iron majors past and present, fellow commanders, friends,

Change in Command_155and the Lobo and Brigade Staff. Your support and effort made it this successful command possible. To my brother from another mother…MAJ Conrad…thanks for being a sounding board and fighting the good fight…Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another,” and through the past 27 months, you’ve done just that for me. For that I am forever grateful for your friendship.

Vince Lombardi, former head coach of the Green Bay Packers. “I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”

My faith in God was the compass that provided the endurance, drive, and commitment to serve and finish well. But know this…the greatest battles won during command were not won during deployment, open door sessions, command and staff or training meetings. Rather, they were won in prayer for you, your families, and for the battalion and brigade leadership.

With that, I close today with great confidence and pride saying, “Before you today I see a company who is unified in their commitment to the authenticity, credibility and quality of its heart. A company who dares to be themselves, yet lives secure in the knowledge that what they are part of is bigger than the part they play. We ARE Relentless, Unified, Trained, and Disciplined – a mentally tough and adaptive team of professionals devoted to serving Soldiers, Families, and the community. We will always safely complete the mission with relentless pursuit – Anywhere. Anytime.

This company, battalion, and brigade is one team I will never forget. Thank you for allowing me the honor of being your Commander. To Save a Life! DUSTOFF! Lobos! Air Cav! Witchdoctor 6 signing out.

Change in Command_23



all photos courtesy of Christina Smith Photography

The views presented above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.

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