New 315th MXG commander welcomes change; opens doors for growth, development

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Rashard Coaxum
  • 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Sitting in a soon-to-be empty office at Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina, she tries to figure out how to do the unnatural. Being accustomed to starting something new, she needs to do the opposite and shut down a unit, all while searching out the next move forward in her own career. She sighs and continues to think.

On that most difficult day when the odds seemed stacked, that’s when the call came in for the next assignment Col. Sharon Johnson had been waiting so long for. Johnson, the maintenance group commander at the 440th Airlift Wing at Pope AAF, received notification that she was selected to be the new maintenance group commander here.

“I was in my office at Pope on one of those difficult days of trying to close down a unit and take care of my people when I got that word,” Johnson said. “It was almost like the clouds opened up and the sun’s going through, and it reminded me of when I got something as a kid and how important it was. I consider myself to be very lucky.”

Johnson, a 35-year-veteran of the military, began her enlisted Air Force career in 1981 as a vehicle mechanic at Chanute Air Force Base, Illinois. She commissioned in 1990 as a maintenance officer and hasn’t looked back since.

Past Accomplishments
In her last assignment as the 440th Maintenance Group commander, Johnson said that her most valued accomplishment was an intangible one; integrating the active duty culture with the Reserve culture.

Johnson said that the 440th AW was an active associate unit in the C-130 community, having an active duty flying squadron, which had embedded active duty maintainers who were integrated with the Reserve 440th AW. That integration was a huge challenge for everyone involved.

After about a year, Johnson said that the wing shifted to a more directed focus on cultivating those relationships to make sure everyone could maintain their active duty and Reserve identities, but to also understand that each Airman was a part of something bigger. Johnson said that she was proud of how far they had come. But that’s when the mission changed.

A Change is Coming
“We were working our way to doing that and really benefiting from the togetherness piece when we got word that we were going to change our mission and go to [C-130] J models,” she said. “When that didn’t happen the next language we got that we were going to deactivate.”

It Brought Me Here
After the deactivation, Johnson made her way to the 315th Airlift Wing where she says that she now feels very blessed to be here, holding the position as the MXG commander. She said that it was a dream job for her that she doesn’t take for granted for one minute.

“Anybody you talk to about Joint Base Charleston is just enamored with their assignment, and no one wants to leave,” she said. “I was blessed in that I was looking for an assignment, and I was considered and selected for it, and I just feel very lucky that I received it.”

315th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Gregory Gilmour said that he felt excited to have Johnson as the new maintenance group commander and to have her bring her years of experience to the Air Force Reserve Command’s best wing.

“We’re very excited to have Col. Johnson join our 315th Airlift Wing family,” Gilmour said. “She brings a great breadth of information and knowledge with her from Pope that we can’t wait to leverage to make our Wing that much better.”

Who I Am, What I Believe
Johnson, a career maintainer, said that she believes that integrity is a critical part of aircraft maintenance. She said that everyday people depend on maintainers to get it right, and this falls back on being truthful to the craft and true to others.

“I believe that integrity is critical to what we do in aircraft maintenance,” Johnson said. “I want those aviators, the pilots, whatever crewmembers there are who are going to question a system we are responsible for on the airplane, it has to be our word that the work is done. Integrity is key.”

The Final Message
As she takes over as the new 315th MXG commander, Johnson said that her goal is to facilitate growth and development in the airmen she commands. She said that it was important to her that she leverage the abilities of each airman, because they all bring something to the table that can make the 315th MXG, and the Wing as a whole, better.

“I would like to see our airmen developed to their full potential, and whatever is reasonable for our airmen, I want them to be able to have a path to develop that,” Johnson said. “I want them to develop that talent, that expertise and I want to make sure that we are not only mission ready, but we are the examples of what mission readiness is for the Air Force.”

“I want our airmen to be valued whether they’re here at home station, or whether they’re out in the community, or whether they’re out there in the Air Force overall,” she said. “I want to make sure every Airman knows they are valued…that’s what I want to leave behind.”

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