Finding the best ways to train and develop airmen and then watching that training pay off is the secret to job satisfaction for Col. Craig Drescher, Commander of the Air Force’s 908 Airlift Wing.
How long have you been in the Air Force? I joined the Air Force Reserve in July of 2004, so almost 16 years. I have been in the military for more than 30 years, as I was in the Navy from 1989 until July 2004.
How long have you been Commander of the 908th Airlift Wing? Since September 2019, but I’ve been a member of the 908th for 12 and a half of the last 16 years. Before assuming command, I was the wing vice commander for nearly a year.
What does your work in this role involve? As the commander, I am responsible for more than 1,200 Reserve Citizen Airmen tasked with providing tactical airlift, aeromedical evacuation and agile combat support worldwide using our nine C-130 H2 aircraft. My top priorities are to further develop the airmen of the 908th and to enhance the wing’s combat capability.
What role does the 908th Airlift Wing play in the Air Force and in our communities? All of our reserve units provide the country a strategic depth that our senior national leaders can use as leverage when they need it. Specifically, the 908th provides the Air Force combat capability anytime and anywhere using highly trained, innovative citizen airmen who are ready today and will be leading tomorrow. We put a high emphasis on always being ready so we can quickly respond with short notice to support anything from combat operations like we have been doing for the last 20-plus years overseas, to providing humanitarian relief worldwide. We are also available to support regional activities like hurricane evacuations for some of our sister units located in the southeastern United States or FEMA response after a storm. We are a vital part of the National Defense Strategy.
Our role in the community is stronger and more vital than most know because our individual reservists are often flying under the radar. Being a Reserve wing, and the only one in the state of Alabama, 75 percent of our members live and work in Alabama and many are from right here in Montgomery and are working in the local community, serving as healthcare professionals, police officers and fire fighters, small business owners, chefs, lawyers and everything in between. Our members are out in the community every day helping make it the wonderful place that it is. I feel very lucky to be here serving in this capacity in my hometown, and I am so proud and honored to be able to serve alongside the awesome men and women in the 908th, they are truly patriotic citizens. This is more than a military unit; it’s family.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your work? There are three things that make my job very rewarding. The first is watching the great, innovative, patriotic Airmen of the wing come together to solve a problem and execute a mission. For example, in early January, with very little notice, we decided to evacuate the aircraft because of pending storms. The entire wing executed this flawlessly. Secondly, I derive great personal satisfaction from watching the Airmen develop. We spend a lot of energy coming up with new and more effective ways to train and ready our Airmen; it’s really fun to watch the members grow and develop into better leaders. Lastly, I still love putting on the uniform every day and greatly enjoy the privilege of serving the country in the world’s greatest air force!
What’s your impression of Montgomery’s partnership with the local military, and why is a good relationship so essential? The local community provides tremendous support to and partnership with the military. It’s great to see the think tanks that are taking advantage of all the military resources that are in the River Region. It’s exciting to see the public-private partnerships taking advantage of all that is available, which is drawing a lot of investment and growth in the development of people, business and infrastructure.
What are your interests outside of work? With five children and one grandchild, there is not a lot of time for additional interests and hobbies. I love attending all the activities the children are involved in, I enjoy exercising, and I like to follow college sports.
The One & Only: The 908th Airlift Wing is our state’s sole Air Force Reserve unit.