KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Airmen from the 403rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron bid farewell to their superintendent March 9 during his retirement ceremony at the Roberts Aircraft Maintenance Facility Auditorium.
As people gathered for the man of the hour, Chief Master Sgt. Michael Herbert reminisced about one of the most valuable lessons he learned during his 33-year Air Force career.
He said that he learned to listen and look beyond obstacles because one decision can make a life-changing impact.
“Come out every day with fresh eyes, whatever task you may have,” he said. “Try not to use prejudgments of people or situations because what you find most often is you're wrong, or there are changes in that individual or the situation you may have missed.”
Listening and not prejudging situations is something he said he learned over time.
“Of course, I am human, and it does still happen, but you have to pull back,” said Herbert. During a deployment he was sent overseas expecting to perform one job; however, upon arrival, he was assigned a more significant task.
“I came into work one day and found out I would be in charge of 90 percent of the aircraft, a job I had never done,” said Herbert. “I realized deep down inside from observing other good superintendents and growing up in the Air Force Reserve on other deployments that I was trained for this. What I thought was a challenge and what I wasn’t ready for, was actually what I had been training for it for my whole career and I was ready for it. I just didn’t know it.”
Herbert overcame that challenge and completed the mission with success.
“You never know what you’re capable of until you’re put in that situation,” said Herbert.
“He’s one of the most reliable people I know,” said Senior Master Sergeant Delfia Trippe, 403rd AMXS assistant superintendent. "He’s dedicated to his job and the people in his life."
Herbert was her trainer when she joined the unit in 1993 and she said Herbert would encourage Airmen to listen, learn and perfect their craft so they could make the right decisions.
From being a trainer to a superintendent, Herbert is now responsible for making sure all of the 403rd AMXS Airmen are trained, the aircraft are maintained and ready for flight at the commander’s notice. And even though he is a chief master sergeant and no longer directly training Airmen, he stays true to motivating the under him to look beyond their obstacles to accomplish the mission.
Herbert said that if there is an issue with a plane, it's up to him to make sure the different shop supervisors’ send the Airmen to fix it.
“I have the attitude of, don’t tell me what you can’t do, just tell me how you're going to fix it,” said Herbert. “Once you tell me what you can do, doors will open. I can get you resources, or I’ll beat some doors down.”
His retirement ceremony marked the start of a new chapter in his life. He said he will continue to use the lessons instilled in him from his military career of 33 years to carry on in his family and work life as a civilian.
“My daughter will be 20 this year,” said Herbert. “Now I can get a last shot of doing some family things, like vacations that I’ve missed, or take them to places the Air Force Reserve has allowed me to travel.”