Tanker Talks: Reserve wing commander discusses Citizen Airmen, Total Force on podcast

  • Published
  • By April McDonald
  • 72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Col. Michael Parks, 507th Air Refueling Wing commander, sat down with Tinker Talks March 1, 2021, to discuss the Okies and what it means to be a Citizen Airman.

Parks, who took command of the U.S. Air Force Reserve unit at Tinker Air Force Base in November 2020, is the first active duty member to lead the Reserve wing here.

“I had the chance of a lifetime to become an Okie,” he said. “For anyone to become an Okie, it’s an honor, but for an active duty person to become an Okie is even more of an honor.”

When the opportunity to command the Reserve wing opened for him, Parks jumped at the chance. In his last assignment as vice commander at the 916th Air Refueling Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, Parks saw firsthand how the integrated Air Force worked.

“Instead of having the Reserve on one side and active duty on the other side, there was a singular chain of command,” he said. “I got to see what Total Force really looked like with a Reserve wing commander commanding active duty members.”

That assignment allowed Parks to see some of the Reserve culture and understand what Citizen Airmen go through as they serve in both their community and globally in the Air Force.

While the definition of “Citizen Airman” is easy to figure out – citizen during the week, Airman on drill weekends – Parks said it’s much more complex than it seems.

“A Reserve Citizen Airman is a person who wants to serve their country, sometimes at the expense of their civilian job, sometimes at the expense of their family, but they feel that they need to continue service,” he said. “That their civilian job doesn’t completely fulfill them, that there is something still open in their heart and in their mind that they can only get by wearing the uniform. That’s a Reserve Citizen Airman.”

Listen to the podcast online at https://www.dvidshub.net/audio/65452/tinker-talks-507th-air-refueling-wing-commander-talks-citizen-airman-total-force

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