As Maintenance Group Commander for the Alabama Air National Guard’s 187th Fighter Wing, Colonel Chris Germann ensures his team maintains the wing’s F-16 fleet to the high “Red Tail Standard.” He and his unit are playing their pivotal role well, being routinely recognized as one of the best F-16 maintenance units in the Air Force.
Where are you from?
As a military brat, I grew up moving all over the country. My dad was from Birmingham, and my mother grew up in Mobile, so I’ve always thought of myself as an Alabamian. I decided to come to Auburn for college so that I could return home even though I’d never lived there. War Eagle!
When and why did you join the Alabama Air National Guard?
I joined the Alabama Air National Guard and the 187th Fighter Wing in September 2006. When I made my decision to join the guard, I was an active-duty Air Force F-16 pilot with 10 years of experience, and my active duty service commitment was up, so my options were open. In my active duty, I had five assignments that required frequent moving, but it was an amazing experience. I realized that if I decided to stay on active duty, I was likely going to receive an assignment to go to school, go to a staff job or go to Korea without my family for a year to continue to fly. At the time, I had three young children. Although staying in a job that allowed me to fly was a priority, my family was more important. Transitioning to the AL ANG allowed me to remain an active F-16 pilot without the requirement to continuously relocate.
What first got you interested in aviation?
Growing up with a dad in the Air Force, I lived close to active runways and always looked to the sky in amazement. All through high school, I loved airplanes and thought about working on them, but never considered flying them due to my inability to meet the perfect vision requirement set for pilots. My vision was 20/50 and at that time in 1992, only those with 20/20 were candidates for the pilot slots. So, when I got to Auburn University, I decided to enter the Mechanical Engineering program and was lucky enough to get an Air Force ROTC scholarship. Then, while still in college, the officer in charge of my class called me to let me know that the vision requirement for pilots had changed to 20/50. I was dumbfounded to say the least and amazed that I had the opportunity. I asked the Major, who was a pilot himself, to give me a few days to pray about it, talk to my father and seek some answers to my many questions before I gave him my final answer. I called him back three days later and started to ask him a few of my unanswered questions. He chuckled and said, “Chris, I turned your paperwork in yesterday.” And that was it. It is amazing how God had a plan for my life, and I was just along for the ride.
What are your primary duties and responsibilities as Maintenance Group Commander?
I am in charge of taking care of more than 500 maintainers so that they can generate safe aircraft in both training and combat for our pilots to fly. My job is to set expectations and to equip and empower them to do the job and uphold the standard of maintaining the aircraft in accordance with Air Force technical orders and instructions. My favorite part is the opportunity to interact with young men and women and help them realize their potential in the Alabama Air Guard. My team is amazing. We routinely outperform other units in sortie generation, both in training and when deployed to answer the nation’s call. I play a very little part in what this organization has accomplished; everyone here deserves the accolades.
Why should Montgomery residents be proud to be home to the 187th?
This unit is full of great Americans that are true patriots who desire to serve their country and protect it at all costs. There are individuals here that work full time who could surely be tremendously successful in the civilian marketplace. We also have many Drill Status Guardsmen that are working in the civilian world full time, juggling the demands of two very important careers. These men and women have decided to use their skills and talents in the military to protect and serve. They will go anywhere in the world and put their lives on the line when asked to do so. Montgomerians should be extremely proud of the work that is done here because we are recognized as one of the best units in the Air Force, and we are ready to defeat our adversaries if the nation needs us.
What’s your favorite aspect of your work with the 187th?
The heritage that we claim in the 187th FW is from the Tuskegee Airmen and what they accomplished in World War II. We call ourselves the Red Tails, and we work daily to try and uphold their standard and to make them proud. We value diversity and love the fact that people come from all walks of life and various backgrounds with the collective purpose of serving our nation.
What are your interests outside of work?
Being married to my awesome wife, Keli, and parenting my three almost-grown kids takes up most of my off time, and it’s what I enjoy the most. I am also heavily involved in Journey Church in Prattville and love being a part of a growing church that is on a mission to help people become fully devoted followers. I love soccer and have spent the last 15 years as a coach in Prattville. I also love water sports, snow skiing and duck hunting.
THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT
Colonel Chris Germann turned the spotlight back on Montgomery, expressing gratitude for the city’s long tradition of having the military’s back. “I just want to say thank you for being a community that supports the military. It means a tremendous amount to me personally and to the members of the 187th FW,” he said. “Many other units in other states that are transitioning to the F-35 have had a fight with their local populace. We have had nothing but total support from the community, local leaders and state representatives. It has been nothing short of amazing, and all of us are uber proud to call Montgomery and the state of Alabama our forever homes!”