Lt. Col. Michael J. Schwan assumed command of the 458th Airlift Squadron Aug. 12 at Scott Air Force Base.
WHAT LED YOU TO JOIN THE AIR FORCE?
I took a round-about way into the Air Force. I initially enlisted in the Navy while in high school. I then received an Army ROTC engineering scholarship that overrode my enlistment. When I wanted to change my major to Atmospheric Science, I was told the Army didn’t have any meteorologists and was fortunate enough to be selected for an Air Force ROTC scholarship. It took me a while, but I finally got it right in the end.
WHEN DID YOU DECIDE YOU WANTED TO BECOME AN OFFICER?
I first considered becoming an officer in ninth grade. I was in Army JROTC, enjoyed the military, and was mentored by my Professor of Military Science to pursue the military as a profession. By the time I was a junior, I knew the military was the path for me.
WAS THERE A SPECIFIC GOAL IN MIND WHEN YOU BECAME AN OFFICER?
My initial goals were to retire as a Lt. Col. and become a pilot. At first, I was told by both the Army and Air Force that I would never qualify to become a pilot because of my vision. It took me four years and a couple of waivers, but I never stopped trying and here I am today: a Lt. Col. and a pilot!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE AIR FORCE MEMORY?
My favorite memory is when I received a call from the 375th AMW Commander letting me know I was selected as the Chief of Safety and would be flying the C-21 again. I literally wept with joy every time I saw the Combat Learjet flying for about a week.
WHAT CAN THE 458TH AS EXPECT FROM YOU?
Transparency, respect, development, support, and having fun.
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM YOUR AIRMEN?
I expect my Airmen to set goals, both personal and professional, and to share them with me so we can work together to achieve them. I expect my Airmen to have balance in their lives by taking time for themselves and their families. Finally, I expect honesty.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE AIRMEN?
Take time for self-reflection to find out what drives you and who you are, develop goals supporting who you are and where you want to be, and then create a plan to achieve those goals. Most importantly—never stop improving yourself.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO THE MOST?
I look forward to partnering with my bride, Maggie, creating and fostering a sense of family for the 458th. We can’t wait to welcome the squadron’s new babies!
DO YOU HAVE A LEADERSHIP PHILOSOPHY?
My leadership philosophy is based around four gifts leaders can provide: authorship, love, power, and significance. Authorship is based on trusting people to solve problems. Authorship leads to better solutions and a sense of ownership. Love may sound strange, yet is critical for a successful organization and entails caring for each other, the mission, and oneself. Power enables members the ability to influence the organization. Finally, significance allows everyone to find meaning in our mission and can transform work into an enjoyable opportunity to make a difference.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BEING AT SCOTT AFB?
We have been at Scott since 2013 and love the base and community. It will be very difficult to leave in a couple years. Until then, we will enjoy every minute!