By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Eugene Crist, 130th Airlift Wing
MCLAUGHLIN AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, W.Va., March 23, 2017 — “Atlus tendo” is Latin for “I reach high.” It is the motto for the U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Academy, and Air Force Master Sgt. David Whanger, first sergeant for the 130th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron here, was recently selected to attend this sister-service professional military education course.
Whanger applied through the state’s Coast Guard command chief petty officer and was selected as one of two members from the entire Air National Guard to attend this course in fiscal year 2017.
Whanger has a personal connection to the Coast Guard. His uncle was a retired Coast Guard chief petty officer, and during the course of his career, he attended the Air Force Senior Noncommissioned Officers Academy at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
While Whanger was growing up, his uncle told him about the wonderful memories of the course and how amazing his experience with the Air Force had been. He came to experience the same sentiment as his uncle, he said, but only fully understood after attending the Coast Guard’s academy.
“Rather than approaching a problem as an individual, you learn to work as a team member from Day One,” he said. “Never once did we use the word ‘I.’ It was always a team-building environment, with an emphasis on ‘we.’ As senior NCOs, we were expected to collectively set an example for our troops. It really opened my eyes up to a more holistic approach as a first sergeant.”
Lessons in Mentoring and Counseling
Whanger said the Coast Guard school taught him to tailor his mentoring and counseling approach to fellow military members based upon their personality types, rather than focusing purely on other factors. “If an individual may need some mentorship, I learned to look at the root cause for this,” he added.
This mentoring style helps to address the genesis of an issue and work towards resolution, Whanger said, rather than getting caught up on the potential consequences of an action.
Whanger said his attendance at the academy was one of the best experiences of his military career. Its learning process, he added, is “leadership that helps you recognize more of yourself at the same time.”
“You definitely come out a more well-rounded person, with a new set of leadership tools to use,” he added.