Over the span of his 21-year-career, Col. Joseph Meyer has held four positions at Scott Air Force Base, including his current position as the 375th Air Mobility Wing’s new vice commander.
He began his journey in the Air Force determined to become a pilot—inspired by both of his grandfathers who served in the military during World War II.
“My grandparents are definitely my heroes. They lived their lives in a way that made their families proud and makes our family proud,” he said. “And, ever since I was young I wanted to fly airplanes. It seemed only natural that if I wanted to fly airplanes and serve my country as well that I could do that through the Air Force.”
The first time Meyer flew an aircraft was when he was about 17-years-old at a municipal airport in his hometown of Sellersburg, Indiana.
“My grandfather put some money on an account and said ‘you go fly as much as you want to get your private license’ and so I did.
“My grandfather, who was a Marine, actually had an innate fear of flying, but was very much interested in helping me achieve my goals,” Meyer said.
With about 20 hours of flight school under his belt, he joined the Air Force after graduating from Purdue University in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.
Now he is a command pilot with more than 700 combat flight hours and over 3,700 total hours.
He has flown the T-37 Tweet, T-1 Jayhawk, C-21 Learjet, and the C-17 Globemaster III.
He has served in numerous supervisory and leadership positions to include: 14th Airlift Squadron commander at Joint Base Charleston, S.C.; and twice as the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Meyer has deployed both operationally and on staff in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
“Hands down my favorite Air Force experience has been ... having an operational focus with the C-17s as squadron commander at Charleston.
“(It’s) probably the closest I’ll ever be to the largest group of Airmen that I can have direct impact on.”
Meyer describes positions of command as an honor; both humbling and sometimes a little intimidating.
“You have a lot of Airmen whose lives are in your hands both to safely execute a mission that is inherently dangerous and to take care of their families,” he said.
With leading Airmen, he said he has a motto that he lives by that can be beneficial for everyone.
“Try to be consistent in all things: Being a good father, a good husband, a good Airmen, a good friend, and being good to yourself,” Meyer said.
He says his wife, Brandy, and his two daughters, Eleanor and Evelyn, are his greatest support system. He met his wife in high school, got engaged in college, and they graduated from the same university.
“I would have never come this far without her, our lives together have brought us to where we are today,” he said.
“She is definitely my better half. Her judgment has always been superior to mine, she has a practical and balanced approach that I value greatly.”
Brandy is currently the volunteer lead spouse adviser to Col. Leslie Maher, 375th Air Mobility Wing commander.
“She’s picked up a significant role in the wing and I can only be thankful and humbled that she wants to support this wing in the way that she does,” said Meyer. “I applaud her, she is fantastic.”
Being a leader for him means setting the example through both words and deeds. Credibility is everything. Along with that he said he looks to bring candor, transparency and respect for diversity of thought to his position, as well an openness to understand many perspectives and do what is right for this wing.
“(In turn) what I expect from Airmen is to work hard and to conduct themselves in a manner that is befitting of an Air Force Airmen and the (uniform) they are wearing, both on and off duty.
“I expect them to respect each other and allow open discussion and ideas, and diversity of thought as well as diversity of life,” Meyer said.