Scott Air Force Base News

Meet Col. John Weatherwax, new 375th MDOS commander

Col. John Weatherwax is the new 375th Medical Operations Squadron commander.
Col. John Weatherwax is the new 375th Medical Operations Squadron commander.

Col. John Weatherwax is the new 375th Medical Operations Squadron commander.

The 375th Medical Operations Squadron provides comprehensive primary care and limited referral and space-available subspecialty care to TRICARE-enrolled patients at the medical group. The squadron also has responsibility for the Family Medicine Training Program, which is a joint civilian-military residency program sponsored by the Saint Louis University School of Medicine Family Practice Program.

The squadron is comprised of six flights: Scott Family Health Clinic, Belleville Family Medicine Clinic, Medical Specialties Services, Mental Health, Physical Therapy and Chiropractic, and Obstetrics and Gynecology.

What led you to join the Air Force?

After serving for six years as an enlisted member of the U.S. Coast Guard, working as an H-65 flight mechanic, I had a strong desire to continue my military service. The Air Force recruited me by offering great opportunities to practice as a nurse and continue my nursing education.

When did you decide you wanted to become an officer?

During my first day on the job at a civilian hospital. I missed the friendships and camaraderie that we take for granted in the Air Force. I also knew the Air Force had advancement and educational opportunities that were unmatched elsewhere.

Was there a specific goal in mind when you became an officer?

I actually wanted to be a family practice nurse practitioner, but this career field was not an option during the year I applied for an AFIT scholarship. Fortunately, pediatric nurse practitioner was an option, and I am so grateful that I lucked into this medical care specialty. I love providing care to the base children and enjoy interacting with their parents. I enjoy it so much, that I’ve blocked my calendar so that I can work in the clinic once a week, doing what I love most.

What is your favorite Air Force memory?

My deployment to Riga, Latvia, as part of a medical cadre that trained and exercised with our Navy brethren, as well as with our allied partners from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. It was really rewarding to have that kind of teamwork as we bonded together during a mass casualty exercise.

What can your Airmen expect from you?

A loyal advocate who will listen to their ideas. They can also expect me to celebrate their successes, pick them up when they stumble and hold them accountable whenever they cross the line by doing anything unethical, immoral or illegal.

What do you expect from the Airmen?

Embrace our core values and provide our patients with care filled with compassion and a sense of humility.

I expect them to be experts within their field and to mentor and train those who will one day replace them. Finally, to know when something is wrong, unnecessary or unsafe and to communicate that to me.

What advice would you give Airmen?

A chief once told me, “Run your own race.”

When I enlisted in 1985, I never thought I would be a colonel or have a doctoral degree in nursing. I never chased after a position or title.

So don’t worry about your next job or duty title. Work hard and excel at whatever opportunity you’re given, and you’ll find success and happiness.

What do you look forward to the most?

Meeting the folks in my squadron.

I love hearing their stories, goals and ideas. I am honored to lead them.

Do you have a leadership philosophy?

Serve with humility. Understand that you will never know what’s impacting the life of the Airmen in front of you unless you learn about their struggles, understand their lives, and earn their trust.

How do you feel about being at Scott AFB?

This is my first time living in the Midwest, and I’m beginning to understand why so many folks have multiple assignments here and retire nearby. I feel fortunate to belong to a community that loves their Airmen as much as they do here. I’m looking forward to exploring more of the local communities and towns.