Col. Paul Guemmer was named commander of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing at Fairchild Air Force Base late last month in a ceremony attended by hundreds of military personnel, civilians and local officials. Guemmer comes to the area from Washington, D.C., where he spent four years in Air Force strategic planning.
Q. Who came to Spokane with you?
A. I was able to bring my wife, Cindi, and three children out with me. Jane, my oldest, is 19 and attends Florida State. My daughter Angela, 17, just graduated a year early from high school. My son, Gus, will be a freshman in high school. Cindi and I met in Germany; we both grew up in military families.
Q. You’ve lived a lot of different places. How do you get to know a new place?
A. Well, you do some homework before you get to a new place. … Spokane has some great websites that provide information. After my assignment was announced, the Inland Northwest chamber of commerce invited me to a social in D.C., so I met a bunch of community leaders there.
Q. What have you noticed or experienced in Spokane that’s enjoyable?
A. It’s a beautiful area – the setting around here is amazing. Being an outdoor enthusiast myself, I can’t wait to get out and experience what the area has to offer.
Q. In your Change of Command speech, you said one of your goals is to build a positive relationship between Fairchild and the community. How do you build this bridge?
A. You bridge it by being involved and being engaged. With the sacrifices that our airmen are making and long hours they’re working, they need to have the outlet to connect with the community. We can’t provide everything that the airmen need, so we really rely on the community to help provide some of that support. The community needs to understand the level of effort the airmen are putting out.
Q. You also said it’s your goal for the airmen to make someone around them better every day. How do you make others around you better every day?
A. My job is to listen and try to understand what the needs of the airmen and their families are. If I’m not listening, I can’t be responsive to those needs. I will continue to make that a priority.
Q. What do you expect from your airmen?
A. I expect them to take care of the mission first, because we are an Air Force in combat. I expect them to take care of each other. Trust and teamwork are the hallmarks of great organizations. I also ask they take care of themselves. I need them professionally, spiritually and physically ready for the demands of the Air Force.
Q. What can you tell us about SkyFest?
A. SkyFest is our opportunity to open our doors to the community and show them what we do – not only here at Fairchild, but across the Air Force. It will be a two-day event later in the month (July 24 and 25), and we’ll have the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds flying on both days. We’ll have an F-18 demo team flying. We’ll have displays of military aircraft and vintage warbirds that connect us with our history and our lineage. We’ll also have a number of family activities.