Schuler finishes up some paperwork at his desk. Schuler took over leadership of the 341st OG on July 16 and has since been enjoying the opportunity to take care of his Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cortney Paxton)
Col. Mark Schuler, 341st Operations Group commander, poses for a photo with his two daughters Megan, 17 (far left), and Morgan, 15 (far right), and his wife, Michelle. Schuler has been a great addition to Team Malmstrom, bringing a profound passion for the wing’s mission and Airmen. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)
by Airman 1st Class Cortney Paxton
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
9/28/2012 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- This past July, a new leader joined Team Malmstrom to serve as the 341st Operations Group commander. Bringing with him a passionate attitude for both the base's nuclear mission and the Airmen, Col. Mark Schuler is truly a positive asset to the organization.
"It's fantastic to have the opportunity to take care of the people in the operations group and ensure their development and the execution of this critically important mission to our nation's defense," Schuler said.
Although his move to Montana was following a one-year tour in Washington, D.C., as a student at the National War College, Big Sky Country brings back memories from his time spent at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo.
"Having spent a significant part of my career in Cheyenne, Wyo., another missile community, Great Falls reminds me a lot of Cheyenne - especially the western pride and culture," he said. "We have been very impressed with Great Falls and the outstanding support the community provides for Malmstrom. The professionalism and dedication of our Airmen has also been amazing. They do a great job each and every day in tough conditions to execute our critical strategic deterrence mission."
After completing his degree and earning his commission through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Kansas, Schuler started his career in the same position as some of the Airmen on this base - as a combat crew member at F.E. Warren. He spent five and a half years there in different positions, to include senior instructor crew commander, senior evaluator crew commander and Emergency War Orders Plans officer, before moving on to Washington, D.C., where he served as an Air Force Intern at the Pentagon.
Following his almost two years in Washington, D.C., Schuler had the opportunity to go overseas. He spent time in the United Kingdom as a Flight Commander, as well as in Germany as the chief of Space Operations for the 32nd Air Operations Squadron, and another position as chief of space weapons and tactics for the Headquarters, United States Air Forces in Europe, both at Ramstein Air Base.
During his tour in Germany, Schuler deployed to Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia for more than four months where he served in the Combined Air Operations Center at the end of Operation Southern Watch and the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"As a young crew member at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, I never dreamt that I would spend five years in Europe," the colonel said. "When I first came in, I was doing the best that I could serving my country, but my initial thought was that I would probably do my four-year service commitment and then go back home to the Kansas City area. Obviously, my plans changed and it has been an amazing 21-year journey."
In August of 2004, Schuler returned to the United States as a student at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. He spent a good portion of his career in the United States, serving tours at F.E. Warren AFB, Maxwell AFB and Washington, D.C. He has served in positions at the MAJCOM, Joint Staff and Officer of the Secretary of Defense levels.
"I enjoyed my three tours in Washington D.C.," the colonel said. "'It provided me a broader perspective so that now that I'm back at the unit level, I have a much greater appreciation of the importance of our mission."
His perspectives may have been broadened by travel and the positions he's held, but his focus is always the same - his Airmen.
"When we care for our people and set high standards, they're going to go out and do an outstanding job executing the mission," he said. "It's a daily walk toward excellence and perfection; we won't get there overnight, but we have to keep moving in that direction."
Schuler's focus on excellence and perfection for his Airmen is motivated by his ongoing drive for continuous improvement in the operations group. He can commonly be heard saying, "I'm 100 percent certain we don't have it 100 percent perfect yet."
One thing the colonel is sure he got 100 percent right is his family. His wife Michelle and their two daughters; Megan, 17, and Morgan, 15; are the focus of his off-duty time.
"I enjoy spending time with my family," he said. "I've got fleeting time now with my senior in high school who's going to be going off to college next year, but I love working with both of my daughters on what interests them."
Calling themselves the "M Family," Mark, Michelle, Megan and Morgan, complete with their two golden retrievers; Madi and Molly; have already explored some of Big Sky Country, but are excited to see what else it has to offer.
Schuler has had a diverse career including almost 10 years of experience in the nuclear enterprise preparing him for his new position as 341st OG commander, but his knowledge and selfless leadership is what makes him a great addition to Wing One.
"To be able to command an outstanding organization as well as influence and take care of the people as they execute our mission - I can't think of a more rewarding job in the Air Force," he said. "I wake up every morning with a smile on my face and am excited to get out and work with our Airmen as we provide strategic deterrence for our nation."