He Said, She Said

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Michael Duhe and Tech. Sgt. Ryan Labadens
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs
For 403rd Wing Commander Col. Jay Jensen and his wife, Chantel, an assignment at Keesler AFB is like a walk down memory lane. They first met here in 2000.

"He was at Keesler on active-duty at the time and we happened to live in the same neighborhood," Chantel explained. "His daughter and mine were friends and rode the school bus together, which is how we met. We helped each other with our kids, and then one thing led to another and we got married October 11, 2003.

"Jay is the greatest thing that ever happened to me, and I love and support him completely," she added. "I can honestly say I'm his biggest fan!"

Col. Jensen assumed command of the 403rd Wing in May 2011. He and Chantel recently spoke with the 403rd Public Affairs office on a wide range of topics, both personal and professional.

He Said
Q: What can reservists expect from you as their wing commander?

"I will do my best to select good leadership and provide mentorship to help them grow in their positions. I will also try to remove as many roadblocks as possible, which prevent reservists from achieving their training and readiness requirements."

Q: What are currently your top priorities for the wing?

"Passing the Operational Readiness Inspection in January 2012 is priority number one. We need to do this without losing sight of our responsibilities to maintain unit compliance with Air Force instructions and directives. A visible portion of this is having our supervisors submit timely performance evaluations and recognizing their troops with both quarterly award submissions and appropriate Air Force decorations."

Q: Why?

"As a Reserve wing we share a common goal with our active duty counterparts and that is to train, equip, and deploy our members in support of national defense objectives. Passing the ORI demonstrates our capability to meet that objective. Our other standing priority is to develop our airmen. One of the key ways to accomplish this is through mentorship, evaluations, and recognition programs. It all overlaps."

She said
Q: What activities or programs would you like to get involved in with the 403rd Wing?

"I would like to use the Key Family Member Program to help our spouses and families form a strong bond with each other and our men and women in uniform. The program helps spouses and families while their loved ones are deployed. The spouses call to check on each other and see if any help or resources are needed, and then we share these resources and help them get connected or get the help they need. We not only communicate with spouses, but also moms, dads, girlfriends, fiancés, or whoever else the deployed members want us to contact while they're deployed."

Q: Are there any new directions you would like to take the program?

"I would like to take it a step further by forming bonds so that we can call on each other anytime - not just when a loved one is deployed. If the families have the connections and resources they need, it relieves our military members to help them focus on the job at hand without having to worry about what's going on at home. Key Family Member volunteers give their time and their hearts to help each other and our military members. I hope to get at least one volunteer from each squadron in the 403rd. There are many resources available, and I want to make sure that every spouse and family member knows how to take advantage of them."

Q: What would you like to do to get involved with Keesler and the local community?

"I would like to continue the great working relationship with the 81st Training Wing and their spouses and families, connecting active-duty and Reserve members together. Their Airmen and Family Readiness Center has opened their doors to us and provided a representative to help meet our needs. A big thank you goes out to them!

"I also believe it's important for our wing to have a supportive and growing relationship with the community. The Gulf Coast community includes every town and neighborhood from state line to state line, and we need to embrace every area of our community. The 403rd Wing means a lot to this community."

He Said
Q: What are three of your most important principles in life?

"One, strive to stay balanced between family, your employer, and reserve duty. Putting too much time into any one of the above at the expense of another is a guaranteed path to unpleasant situations.

"Two, take ownership of you actions and the environment. There are times to lead and times to be an active follower. Your peers will appreciate you more if they see you taking the bull by the horns, whether you are directly responsible for the action or not. Be part of the solution - don't just stand by and comment on the problem.

"Three, communicate, communicate, communicate. I am always amazed at how people will hold onto a piece of the puzzle until someone eventually asks them for it. This applies to family life as much as our work environment. We all don't have the same skills Johnny Dangerously had in interpreting the prison grapevine. It takes practice and persistence."

Q: What three words best describe you and why?

"Persistent, responsible, and pragmatic. Persistence is what I believe got me where I am today in my career. It certainly wasn't natural ability. I picked up a lot from my peers, mentors and even people who worked for me. I then applied and reapplied what I have learned until finding workable solutions.

"Next, you will notice I didn't say organized, I said responsible. Once we get to a common sense approach, my skill set runs dry. I am not a graduate level process development expert. Because I know this, I try to use all of the talent in the wing to get jobs done. Fortunately, we have a lot of really good people in this wing. I will steer where I believe we need to go, but I am fully aware that the real work is done by all of our airmen through lieutenant colonels. They just need the door opened and the road cleared, and that's my job.

"Finally, and maybe the most important, is being pragmatic. I believe that going in with a 75 percent worked out plan is a lot better than going in after the fact with a 100 percent plan. Bottom line - I will advocate for what works and meets our and the Air Force's needs and requirements."

She Said
Q: Have the two of you always lived on the Gulf Coast together?

"The Reserve moved us to Charleston AFB, South Carolina, in 2008 after a four-month stay in Altus, Oklahoma., for C-17 training. We were in Charleston for one year before moving to Robins AFB, Warner Robins, Georgia. At Warner Robins, I was very involved in the Officers Spouses Group and the Reserve Spouses Group. Jay and I learned how to ballroom dance and I was on the board of the Ballroom Dance Chapter there. The chapter hosted a Charity Ball every year and all of the proceeds went to the Wounded Warrior Project and Hearts to Heroes, which send care packages to our troops overseas."

Q: Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from originally?

"I'm originally from a small town southwest of St. Louis called Bourbon, Missouri - and yes, it got its name because they used to bring in bourbon whiskey on the train. I went to high school in Union, Missouri. I have two grown daughters - Brittany and Andrea - who live in Missouri, and two grown stepchildren - Eren, who lives in Gautier, and Brenna, who started pre-med at Florida State University this August. Col. Jensen and I also have one grandson, Carter, who is a year-and-a-half old. My hobbies include kayaking, dancing, decorating and anything to do with crafts, and I also enjoy the theatre, traveling, snorkeling and riding motorcycles."

He Said
Q: What would your wife say is your greatest strength?

"I can cook up a pretty good spread if I have the time and motivation. Fortunately, I usually don't have the motivation, which actually aids my scoring higher on our Air Force fit to fight measurement."

Q: What are your passions in life?

"I have passion for my spiritual life and family, but must admit that the rest are more aptly described as pursuits or hobbies. I enjoy riding motorcycles, mountain bikes and hunting, and when I get the chance, flying our wing's C-130 aircraft."

She Said
Q: What do you enjoy about being a military spouse?

"I love the military life. Now that our children are grown and we're empty nesters, it has become a great adventure. With each move we meet new people and make new friends, plus we get to explore each area we live in and learn their traditions and customs. After living in Mississippi for so long previously, coming back to the Gulf Coast just felt like coming home."