Under the gun... Getting to know our new Wing commander

  • Published
  • By Col. Steven S. Nordhaus
  • Wing Commander
The Public Affairs office asked Col. Steven Nordhaus to answer a list of questions, below are his answers.

1. So far, what is one of your most memorable moments at the 180th Fighter Wing? Returning from Iraq after 60 days as Detachment Commander with 100% successful mission accomplishment and with Airmen proud of their service. I was greeted by my wife, my kids, my parents and my 90-year-old grandmother, Louis, who was the matriarch of our family and taught me what service before self really meant. She has passed and was an incredible lady.

2. What do you enjoy the most about being at the 180th Fighter Wing?
The people. The members of the 180 FW are incredible people with terrific working skills, attitudes and capabilities. There is no mission our wing cannot accomplish because of our smiling, charged-up warriors who are always willing to accept the next challenge no matter how big or small the task.

3. As the incoming 180th FW Commander, what are your goals?
My goals are to be the best team member I can be for our wing and assist the wing with my best effort everyday to help make the 180 FW the best fighter wing in the world! I want to bring perpetual optimism, a warrior spirit, and service- mentor leadership to this wing with a People First-Mission Always goal!

4. Are your children interested in the Guard/military?
My oldest son is hopefully going to receive an appointment to the Air Force Academy next month. Too early to tell on my three youngest sons. My oldest daughter is studying early childhood development, so she will not be entering into the military.

5. Are there any experiences that you would have handled differently knowing what you know now?
There are too many to list I try to learn everyday and make myself a better husband, father, wingman, warrior and leader. As they say, life is not a sprint but a marathon.
I try to work as hard as I can throughout the day to serve others, reflect at the end of the day on the mistakes I've made and make corrections to not do them again tomorrow.

6. What advice would you give a new enlisted member or officer?
I'd give them both the same piece of advice to start. Remember the Airman's Creed, why you joined and give your best effort every day. Talk with your commanders and supervisors and align your efforts with their vision, mission and goals. Set personal goals and continue your education throughout your life. Make decisions based off core values and beliefs and don't let your ego stand in the way of learning or doing the right thing. Remember, you can't learn with your mouth open!

7. Which leadership position, so far, have you learned the most from?
I learned a tremendous amount from being both the 112th Squadron Commander and Air Sovereignty Alert Commander. If I had to choose, I would say I learned more from the Air Sovereignty Alert Commander job because it touches so many areas across the base, local community, state and nation. Getting to meet and work with people from all those areas helped me grow as a person and a leader.

8. What do you feel are your biggest accomplishments?
Graduating from the Air Force Academy and Joint Jet Euro-NATO pilot training. Both required my fullest effort and I wasn't sure that would be enough until receiving each diploma! They gave me the confidence that if I could make it through those programs;
I could make it through anything.

9. Is there a motto you have maintained throughout your career?
Do the right thing, every day, all the time. Treat people like you'd like to be treated. Everyone is critical and important to our mission in the military and anyone who volunteers to serve their country, whether it is for three years or thirty years has my utmost respect.

10. Do you have a mentor or role model that you admire, or helped to shape your career?
Col. Jeff Eberhart and General Rand were squadron commanders during my formidable years as a young captain. I emulate their leadership styles and care for people. Mike "Mac" McWilliams was my first flight commander and weapons officer... he certainly instilled in me a warrior focus, tactical thought process and never ending fire to take the fight to the enemy. Offense is the best Defense.

11. Of the places and missions you have flown with the 180th Fighter Wing, are there any which stand out in your mind?  Why?
I led the wing's first combat mission for OEF back in 2005 and my wingman had a jet malfunction about an hour into the flight, so we had to return to base. We jumped into new jets and proceeded back on the same seven hour plus mission. I believe we logged about 9 hours of flight time that mission. We also had limited communication capability at that time due to the new mission and rugged terrain for this mission. Upon arriving in theatre, a convoy had come under attack so we finished air-to-air refueling and provided overhead cover and helped repel the attackers. The next hours were spent escorting the rescue helicopters into the harsh terrain through the mountains and back out carrying the wounded and dead. The crystal- clear vivid images of the threats and challenges we faced that day will never leave me. The voices of the marines over the radios and the thankfulness they had for us providing air cover that day will also never be forgotten.

12. In all the people you've met so far in your career, which has impressed you, the most?
It would be Master Sgt. Maurice Williams. He left his family for a year to come and assist our wing's critical need in Emergency Management. He led his team with a warrior mentality and a constant smile on his face. He worked tirelessly and always put service and other before self. He met every challenge with an optimistic "Yes we can" attitude and ensured our wing's success in the 2010 Operational Readiness Inspection. We have a lot of Airmen like him, so it was hard to choose one through my 21 year career, but if I had to choose one...he's it.

13. What is some advice that you give to young members of the Air National Guard? Enjoy your career! You're with the best organization on the planet, with a terrific mission, people and opportunities. Give your best effort every day and there is no limit to the people you can help and the things you can accomplish over your career. You get what you give!
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