DUKE FIELD, Fla. --
Chief Master Sgt. Brian L. Bischoff immediately took a "boots on the ground" approach to his new position when he arrived at Duke Field, Fla. as the 919th Special Operations Wing command chief three years ago.
As command chief, his official responsibilities were to serve as enlisted advisor to the commander on organizing, training, equipping and maintaining the wing's special operations forces.
But for Bischoff, being the command chief for the Air Force Reserve's only special operations wing was about so much more than that. He dove into his job, touring the base, meeting everyone and learning about our Citizen Air Commandos. Bischoff was immediately impressed by the wing's "Quiet Professionals."
"I feel so incredibly honored and humbled to have been a part of this unit," Bischoff said. "The history, the people, the current missions we are part of is just incredible to me. I often walk around the streets of Duke on Sunday after everyone leaves and just marvel at the base and what we do here."
Developing leaders and recognizing the exceptional efforts of the unit's airmen were Bischoff's top priorities. Under his mentorship and guidance, the wing's STEP II promotion recommendations earned an 80 percent selection rate. In 2018, the wing achieved an astounding 100 percent selection rate.
Bischoff understood leaders are developed early and should be mentored often throughout their careers. He saw the Development and Training Flight as a gateway to building the future leaders the Air Force needs. To do so required him to take time to help groom new Airmen for basic military training and technical school, and he always added his personal flair.
"He [challenged] them with their fitness by joining them and making a game of it," said Senior Master Sgt. Christina Bicknell, 919th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "Who else has done this? These young Airmen look forward to opportunities where they are encouraged to believe in themselves and now look forward to returning to Duke Field after their technical school."
These special opportunities were not lost on Bischoff, either.
"Getting them ready for basic and seeing them and hearing their stories when they return is incredible" Bischoff said. "Watching people grow as leaders, get promoted and live up to their full potential is the most rewarding."
Bischoff also used his extensive leadership knowledge and experience to implement and improve several programs and functions in the wing. Focusing on the awards program, he was able to grow enlisted leaders in their writing skills, while garnering recognition for the unit's superior performers. It was a win-win situation that Bischoff credited to the diligence of leadership to remain engaged at all levels.
Throughout his tenure at the 919th SOW, Bischoff always tried to embody engagement at every level. He loved being among the people, and took time to assist with ID checks at the front gate nearly every UTA--even a few times in costume to encourage some smiling faces as wing members started their day.
He also served in other ways such as preparing and serving meals at the dining facility on many occasions. Often times, these interactions led to more in-depth mentoring opportunities.
"Chief Bischoff is a great mentor," said Bicknell. "He never turns down an opportunity to listen to the Airmen, and he remains engaged with those individuals who have sought out his advice. He follows up on the goals [they] came up with, showing he [really] cares about them."
After more than 30 years in the Air Force, Bischoff considers his time with the people here as a career highlight. While his tour as the 919th SOW command chief will conclude March 3, 2019, he will continue serving as an adviser to senior leaders in the Air Force Reserve.
"Being this wing's command chief has been the greatest honor of my life," Bischoff said. "The friendships made and the lessons learned will never be forgotten and will always hold a place in my heart. It has been an honor to have served beside our Citizen Air Commandos."