MXG CC brings enthusiasm, knowledge to command

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Eydie Sakura
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs Office
He brings three big themes to everywhere he goes and everyone he meets, which are "do I know my job, am I doing it right, and how do I know?" 

He's fiercely loyal and said he'll do anything for friends, co-workers and bosses; "loyalty to the bone" is how he stated it. 

"I'd follow any of my bosses to hell [and back] with a bag of ice," said Col. Jeffrey Frankhouser, 341st Maintenance Group commander. "I try to make sure the people I serve understand that I care for them, and that there are no unimportant jobs on this base. Everyone contributes, everyone leads and everyone is accountable for the success of the team." 

The 341st Missile Wing welcomed Colonel Frankhouser into his new command March 6 at a change-of-command ceremony in the 3-Bay Hangar. He enjoys being in a position to make positive changes that benefits the lives of more than 500 people in the maintenance group and to teach what he's learned. But he misses being out in the field doing the hands-on mission. 

"I envy the squadron commanders and their daily close contact with the people who make the mission happen ... the folks with the wrenches at the point of contact with the weapon system," the colonel said. "Besides providing [MXG/CC] vision for the organization to follow, the commander needs to be a teacher. Success without successors is failure. The failure to train our replacements deals our service and our nation a crippling blow that takes many years to recover." 

The self-proclaimed Air Force brat spent the bulk of his formative years at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., as his father was an early ICBM pioneer in enlisted missile maintenance throughout the late '50s and early '60s. His mother was an accomplished singer and religious educator. 

"I literally grew up around this stuff [missiles]," the U.S. Air Force Academy graduate said. "I was always fascinated by his work and I had a very strong desire to follow his path. As far as the Academy, that wasn't something I had thought about at all. I heard an Academy Cadet speak at a local high school and the fire got lit and I refocused myself toward that goal. The rest, as they say, is history." 

Colonel Frankhouser can trace his lineage back to the Revolutionary War and family members have served in just about every major conflict. 

"I'm kind of like Lieutenant Dan from 'Forrest Gump'," he laughed. "I had four uncles in World War II, and one of those, Fred, was an Army Air Corps gunner on a B-26 who had been decorated for heroism." 

That uncle helped land his crew's crippled aircraft and then evacuated his wounded comrades to safety although he was badly injured. He was killed on a subsequent mission prior to D-Day. 

"I often think of what guys like him went through and sacrificed," the military history buff said. "It keeps me grounded and balanced when I think I'm having a tough day!" 

Two of Colonel Frankhouser's favorite military-themed movies are "Saving Private Ryan" and the "Band of Brothers" series. He said they both hammer home very important themes, which are the value of team in mission accomplishment and the concept of personal accountability. 

"We must all be able to count on each other, rely on each other and know that we'll each get the job done right because it's the right thing to do," he said. "When we're accountable we know what we must do to make our team successful, and we understand the consequences of failure on our mission if we don't. We take care of each other." 

The new commander arrived to Malmstrom in March with his wife, Elaine, who was his high school sweetheart, along with their four children. 

"[Elaine] truly is a hero and amazes me daily by holding together a very busy house through many trials of life, frequent moves and new schools," Colonel Frankhouser said. "We have four great kids, three boys and a girl, ages 13 through 8. My twin 10-year-old boys are special needs kids and that adds a dimension and dynamic to our lives that many families don't experience. We've learned as much from them as they have from us. Autistic children teach you much about unconditional love, patience and what's really important in your life." 

Colonel Frankhouser has a variety of hobbies. He believes trying different things, and having lots of options as healthy outlets for stress, are important. Physical fitness is great to reduce stress, but he thinks mental fitness comes from varied experiences and should not to be undersold. 

"I'm all over the place," he said. "[I enjoy] radio electronics, computers, tactical pistol shooting, playing acoustic guitar and singing. I used to restore and ride old motorcycles, and the last one I did was a 1956 Harley [Davidson], but I don't have much time for that anymore." 

His leadership style is apparent; he loves to interact and focus on people. 

"I'm here to ensure the people I serve are successful and have good opportunities," he said. "[Our Air Force] is extremely tech-savvy and intelligent, and there are many tremendously talented people. There's an old saying, 'if you want to be successful, then hang out around successful people and learn.' Biographical books are an easy way to experience some of history's most exceptional leaders. Private, quiet reading time is important, because you never learn anything in life while your own lips are moving. There's a lot to learn from the past." 

Learning from the past is in the foreground of the strategic deterrent mission, and Colonel Frankhouser sees it as a crystal ball the Air Force cannot and will not drop. 

"We must once again become a culture intolerant of deficiency and not be comfortable with 'good enough', 'business as usual', or 'the way we've always done it'," he said. 

"This is a tough business we're in, it's supposed to be, it should be and it has to be. If it was easy, anybody could do it. Chief Andy Franklin said it best, "It's time to 'accept the tough' and show our Air Force and our nation that our nuclear deterrent is vibrant and ready for the future." 

Colonel Frankhouser brings his big three themes to everyone he meets. He wants people to know their job, do that job right, and analyze how they know how to do that job. His mind is in the game and he said he's not about to throw in the towel any time soon. 

"My mind is focused on the here and now," he said. "I'm a person of faith and believe that God gives the very best to those who leave the choices to Him. When it's time [to retire], I'll know and the doors will open to the next chapter in our lives. I'll leave unafraid of the future."