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Two men, two leaders, two standards of excellence

DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. -- Col. Joseph Thomas, 94th Airlift Wing vice commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Lesley Morrissette, 94th Airlift Wing command chief, are the newest members of the wing leadership team. 

Colonel Thomas, formerly the wing inspector general, brings a wealth of experience from his 24 years as a pilot (civilian and military), squadron commander, deployments and civilian business. He has been married to his wife Peggy of Greensboro, N.C., for 18 years and has two children, Kevin and Carol. 

"Even though my father retired from the Army, I had not thought about what I wanted to do professionally until I talked to a recruiter and entered the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) during college," he said. "Along with the camaraderie, I enjoy the challenge of planning, executing and commanding complex military flying operations." 

Colonel Thomas attributes many of the operational improvements in today's Air Force to technically savvy airman, excellent tools and superb training "exemplified by the 94th."
"The way mission planning is done today with complex software is one example of the evolution in air warfare compared to the time I entered into aviation," he said. 

Colonel Thomas' pilot experience includes the U-2 High Altitude Reconnaissance Aircraft, the MC-130P Combat Shadow and the T-38 Talon. His previous assignments at Dobbins ARB are 94th AW inspector general and 94th Operations Support Squadron commander. 

He served in Southwest Asia as a U-2 pilot during Desert Storm. He also served as J-3 deputy director of operations with the Joint Special Operations Air Component, A-3 Air Force Special Operations Detachment and MC-130P mission commander in support of Enduring Freedom. 

"Serving in a joint environment with other military services was a great experience," said Colonel Thomas. "Learning to operate as a team with the different services was sometimes interesting with the varying service cultures, but each branch has its strengths and you learn to understand and appreciate them more after working together. Also, you quickly find out that reservists possess a wealth of experience and know-how that are often not reflected in their Air Force specialty codes." 

Chief Morrissette also brings a wealth of experience from his 24 years of total service to the military. He and his wife Jacqueline, married 18 years, have two sons, Brandon and Kendal. His military service includes six years with the Army as a combat engineer, an assignment with the famed 82nd Airborne Division, 42nd Airborne Training Detachment and 18 years with the Air Force Reserve. 

Chief Morrissette comes to the 94th from the 908th Airlift Wing at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. 

After leaving active duty, the chief completed his college education and gained employment with the Alabama Department of Transportation where he has held the positions of electronic engineering technician, civil engineer and now serves as a civil engineer manager. 

"Upon entering the Air Force Reserve I had to lose a stripe," said Chief Morrissette. "It was painful to come in as an E-4 after earning the rank of sergeant in the Army." 

That pain didn't last long. The opportunity to enter into the crew chief career field coupled with the chief's dedicated work ethic more than made up for the initial sacrifice. "I was motivated to excel at my job as a crew chief, NCO and leader and I was fortunate to have seasoned and experienced NCOs that were willing to help," he said. 

"Whatever you decide to succeed at in life requires a strong work ethic. My father and grandfather taught me that after everything is said and done, your work will speak for you," said Chief Morrissette. "I've applied that principle everyday of my life and I always encourage people in general and emphasize to NCOs to give 100 percent and strive to make their situation or team better." 

My civilian job requires quite a bit of time away from home as does my Reserve job, he said. "Time management is a task in itself that challenges many citizen-Airmen. It's important to ensure that quality time with family is always well spent. My wife is prior Army and she has a pretty good understanding of the military and it's her unwavering support over the years that have allowed me to take the time away from family and give the Air Force the best I have to offer." 

Chief Morrissette emphasizes the importance of Airmen knowing where their job fits within the "big picture" of the Air Force mission. He wants to ensure that today's Airman not only know their jobs and master their technical skills, but ensure they develop solid leadership and managerial abilities. 

"I'm a team player and teamwork is what I will emphasize in the 94th, because I believe in the three P's -- people, pride and professionalism," he said. "These attributes along with good leadership are the keys to the success of any organization. In my experience, leadership is not about processes and programs; it is about connecting with people in such a way that they are inspired and encouraged to drive processes and effectively and efficiently manage programs." 

Chief Morrissette served in Southwest Asia in 1990 during Desert Storm and deployed in 2003 and 2004 in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.