Missile combat crew commander makes the most of volunteer opportunities

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Katrina Heikkinen
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs Office
From a worship band at church, to the Special Olympics regional competition - for one missile combat crew commander, finding time to volunteer has always been a high priority.

With a work schedule that is ever changing, Capt. Lon Schmidt, an ICBM combat crew commander with the 12th Missile Squadron, always manages to squeeze in any opportunity to volunteer- anything from sports related activities to playing the piano at church.

"I volunteer when I have time," Captain Schmidt said. "One week I'll post out on a Monday, and the next week I'll post out on a Tuesday. There's no consistency; the schedule is always changing so it makes it difficult."

About eight times a month, Captain Schmidt and a deputy post out to the field. He is in charge of the crew, the flight area and making sure teams get on and off the site. From daily inspections, to checking inventory, to making sure the equipment at the capsule works properly, his daily tasks require him to be nothing short of extremely well trained.
Along with being well trained, Captain Schmidt said that spending all day with only one person requires a positive attitude and the ability to work well with people.

"His presence is always positive," said Capt. Johann Pambianchi, ICBM combat crew commander instructor, 12th MS. "He has a great attitude; he is someone you want to be around because it's contagious."

"The most rewarding thing is teaching your deputy and seeing the light bulb go off in their head when they understand things," Captain Schmidt said. "When we post out to the field, there are only two of us. As a commander, I am responsible for teaching them and making sure they're prepared to do the job. When they start off brand new they have a lot to learn but when you start studying with them and they start doing the job well it is great."

He carries this attitude into his personal life by volunteering for a church youth group and various sports activities such as this year's Special Olympics regional competition. Even though it is hard to coordinate with his schedule, he also is working toward helping kids become healthier by making a running group at church.

"When I volunteer, it's for something I care about," Captain Schmidt said. "Work is fun, but at the same time, I like to help others out - especially when I'm doing something that's enjoyable."

He said that when he volunteers it doesn't feel like work to him because he enjoys it.

"I want to be involved because I saw the impact people had on me, and that correlates here at the wing," Captain Schmidt said. "When I was a deputy, I had great commanders who all brought me up to do great. I'm trying to do the same for my deputies and help them grow into better officers and people."

His is a positive and strong leader, as even his peers have taken notice.

"He's a great leader, especially when working with deputies," Captain Pambianchi said. "He's helping mold them into great deputies and future commanders."