93rd AGOW command chief to assume role as USAFCENT command chief

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brigitte Brantley
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
The 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing, a tenant wing at Moody, will bid farewell to their command chief on Dec. 4 as he takes on a new role at a higher level.

Chief Master Sgt. Mark Villella, who believes in holding both himself and others to the Air Force's highest standards, will complete a 12-month tour as the command chief of the U. S. Air Forces Central Command.

During his time at Moody, Chief Villella has enjoyed the sense of teamwork of Team Moody maintained, especially upon his return from temporary duty assignments.

"The 93rd AGOW has more than 10 geographically separated units, and because of this I was gone quite often traveling and visiting the Airmen assigned to them," he said. "Whenever I returned, it was always an easy transition back into the operations tempo because the Airmen helped make it seem as if I had never left."

Even though he was often gone, another chief master sergeant on base recognizes the effort Chief Villella has put into staying connected with Moody Airmen.

"Chief Villella is gone for more than half his duty time, mentoring those at the geographically separated units, but he shows that he cares for all of his Airmen," said Chief Master Sgt. Richard Parsons, 23rd Wing command chief master sergeant. "Whether mentoring Airmen in attendance at Jason D. Cunningham Airman Leadership School or participating in the Top 3 Group or Chief's Group, he is one of the loudest and proudest members of Team Moody."

Originally a tactical air control party member, Chief Villella has an extensive background in combat situations. He is qualified as a U.S. Army Ranger, master parachutist, air assault and rappel master, and a high-altitude, low-opening master parachutist, as well as a U.S. Navy combat diver.

Chief Villella has spent a large part of his Air Force career on U.S. Army posts, which helped develop his leadership skills at a young age.

"One of my earlier assignments was at Fort Benning, N.C., where I spent nearly five years working with the Army Rangers," Chief Villella said. "The ranger course teaches you how to function under extreme pressure and handle difficult situations, no matter what your rank is.

"Anything can happen when you're a ranger so you're taught to be prepared and to handle things accordingly," he added. "For example, there might be a senior airman in charge of planning a jump mission. In this instance, he is responsible for ensuring that mission is carried out completely, despite the rank of anyone he might be 'in charge of.' In this case, it's not rank that matters, it is experience and getting done what needs to be done."

The chief's dedication to getting things done has helped him form certain expectations for each tier in the enlisted force structure.

He believes each rank of airman basic through senior airman is all about learning the attributes needed to be a leader.

"When an Airman first joins the military, I believe it's best for him to get squared away mind, body and soul," Chief Villella said. "By doing this, they are prepared to take the reins when it is time to become a non-commissioned officer."

He compares his NCO expectations to that of the functions of a thermometer and a thermostat. Each NCO should, like a thermostat, regulate and control, not merely acknowledge like a thermometer does.

"If an NCO merely observes a problem and takes it to their leadership, not much has really been accomplished," said Chief Villella. "It's much more useful for NCOs to observe a problem and then develop a possible solution. Similar to a thermostat, they can then adjust and regulate the amount of higher leadership that needs to be incorporated to successfully deal with a situation.

"By doing this, it helps them succeed once they become a senior NCO," he added. "When they reach that level, they are expected to interpret the appropriate Air Force Instruction, not just follow it. Sometimes, things aren't just black and white, and senior enlisted members help interpret the AFI so it best serves the Air Force."

To best serve the Air Force, the chief looks forward to the big opportunity ahead of him and has belief that his Airmen will meet his expectations.

"I don't consider my upcoming assignment a challenge, but rather an adventure," Chief Villella said. "There are many Airmen at this base who are individual augmentees and might not have the same support individuals from other services do. My primary duty is to ensure they are taken care of, and that will be done."

Although he isn't sure what his exact duty is going to require him to do after his USAFCENT tour, he hopes he leaves his Airman with what his first military mentor left him.

"My first supervisor was one of the people who most affected me," he added. "He took the time to know his subordinates, gave positive feedback and led from the front. His leadership technique was one that helped me become receptive to the Air Force and what my purpose in it was."

Chief Villella's mentoring has been felt by many Moody Airmen, especially by his fellow command chief.

"He is truly an American Airman and a leader among leaders," said Chief Parsons. "He has motivated and challenged me in many ways. We always seem to link up on the base-wide five-kilometer runs and he never leaves me behind. I thank him for his friendship and his service. This isn't a 'farewell', but a 'see you around.'"