Good leaders give clear direction, support their people and guide
them toward success. But great leaders take it one step further.
They spend the day in Baton Rouge delivering supplies and checking
on each of their Airmen after a flood. They drive all day to make it
home in time for a child’s event because being there for their
Airmen means they must live two states away from their family. They
try to dodge photos and articles and recognition because they would
rather see their people in the spotlight.
Airmen in the 403rd Wing, their commander, Col. Michael Manion, is a
May 4, 2017 - U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Manion, 403rd
Wing Commander stands proudly in front of an American Flag on a
C-130J Super Hercules aircraft during the final flight of his Air
Force career at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heather Heiney)
He started his Air Force journey as a student at the Air
Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and was
commissioned upon his graduation in 1987. Once he completed
technical and aircraft-specific training in 1989, he began
his career as a pilot at his first duty station at Minot Air
Force Base, North Dakota. Since then he’s had seven duty
assignments and deployed 10 times in support of operations
Desert Storm, Restore Hope, Deny Flight, Noble Anvil, Iraqi
Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
“During my service
I've been fortunate to be able to do what I trained to do;
whether it was refueling F-4's low on fuel in Desert Storm,
picking up an Afghani boy at 8,500 feet in the mountains,
working at Air Force Special Operations Command headquarters
or being a member of the unrivaled 403rd Wing,” he said.
“It's been a great journey filled with so many wonderful
said joining the military was the only career path he ever
considered. He grew up in an Air Force family where his
father spent 22 years as an aeromedical technician on rescue
“I was raised to see the great
opportunities that we have in this country, and I wanted to
do something to give back,” Manion said. “It was in my
He spent his entire career giving back.
One thing he said he’s enjoyed about his career is the
opportunity to mentor Airmen.
“I’ve been fortunate
to do many things,” Manion said. “My first goal was to be a
leader and flying was a bonus.”
One way he helps
develop young Airmen is through his role as chairmen of the
403rd Wing Human Resources Development Council. This group
was established to give Airmen a forum to voice concerns or
share innovative ideas as well as plan opportunities for
mentorship and building wing morale.
has inspired many young Airmen in his role as chairman of
the HRDC by making them feel comfortable and giving them the
tools to develop as Airmen,” said Staff Sgt. Ashley Bever,
403rd Wing HRDC vice chairman. “From the moment I met him I
was inspired because he always shares his knowledge openly
and teaches us about greatness. I’ve learned so much from
him over the years.”
May 4, 2017 - U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Manion, 403rd
Wing Commander (left) and Capt. Nick Foreman, 815th Airlift Squadron
pilot land a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft during the final flight
of his Air Force career at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heather Heiney)
One thing he said he wants
Airmen to understand is that it’s not about getting
promoted, it’s about doing the job you have now and doing it
to the best of your ability.
“It may not be what you
want to do, but do the best you can at it because that’s the
role you’re in,” he said. “Don’t do things to get promoted,
do them because it’s the right thing to do.”
advice also aligns with the Air Force core value of service
before self, which means setting aside personal desires to
accomplish the mission and contribute to the bigger picture.
“Colonel Manion is the epitome of service before
self,” said Col. Chad Segura, 403rd Mission Support Group
commander. “He has stepped up every time the wing has needed
him. It's amazing to think he has commanded the aeromedical
staging squadron, maintenance group and mission support
group in addition to his duties as vice and wing commander.
He truly has impacted every unit on base. More personally,
he served as a vital mentor to me. I honestly would not be
where I am now without his encouragement.”
Manion is always a gentlemen, calm under pressure, on time
to each event and loyal to duty and unit,” said Col. Jay
Johnson, 403rd Maintenance Group commander.
said that Manion has made an impact on the 403rd Wing by
providing stability during uncertain times, acting as calm
during the storm, and always being compassionate toward
fellow Airmen. He also said the colonel taught him how to
remain confident, listen before speaking, and reinstall his
Manion said the biggest things he’ll
take away from his time at the 403rd Wing are that the
Airmen are outstanding and the support from the 81st
Training Wing is second to none.
“I’m just amazed at
the high quality of people we have and the jobs they do. Our
Reserve Citizen Airmen all have interesting backgrounds and
stories and have a lot to contribute,” he said. “You see
them in their role as an aerial porter or a nurse and in the
background they do something completely different.”
May 4, 2017 - U.S. Air Force Col. Michael W. Manion, 403rd
Wing commander, is sprayed with water after his final flight on a
C-130J Super Hercules at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heather Heiney)
The colonel said he’d like to see the wing continue with
their excellence and continue exporting that excellence to
the rest of the Air Force.
“We have so many good
Airmen, and I want to see them continue to be successful,”
The colonel will retire during a ceremony
scheduled for 2 p.m. May 7 at the Roberts Consolidated
Aircraft Maintenance Facility auditorium.
retirement I’m going to take some time off to spend with my
family. Like many Airmen I’ve been on the road a lot, so I’m
excited to have time with them,” he said. “I couldn’t have
served like I have without the outstanding support I’ve
received, especially from my wife Lisa and my children Kaci,
Alexandra and Christopher. I could not have put in as much
as I have with the passion I have without support from
friends and family along the way.
“It’s been an honor
for me to wear the uniform and to serve with so many
outstanding men and women,” he said.
By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Heather Heiney
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