Going Full Circle

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Matthew T. Doyle
  • 132d Wing Public Affairs

It isn't often in life that we get the chance to leave the place we started, grow and advance, and make the return back to the original starting location. But for 2nd Lt. Nick Weiland, it is precisely what he did on his return trip to Spangdalhem Air Base, Germany.

During his six-year career on active duty, half of his time was spent stationed in Spangdalhem AB, from 2015 - 2017. As an enlisted planner journeyman at the time, he integrated into deployment operations, which was something new from his previous assignment at Joint Base Andrews where he strictly deployed passengers. In his role with the 52nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, he quickly rose to the extremely challenging task of deploying various fighter wings to regions downrange. 

As a member of a ten-person team, Weiland played a critical role in achieving the mission set before him along with assisting to better fellow Airmen. His supervisor at that time, Greg Garcia attested to the significant impression that he made as a member of the team.

“Nick came in and impressed me right away as one of those guys that you give the intent without any instruction, he doesn’t need a how-to guide, just tell him what you want to be accomplished, and he does it,” said Garcia. 

When executing flying training deployments in Europe, there is always something that comes up like having a diplomatic clearance issue or an airplane breaks and now you’re stuck somewhere. There were all kinds of those situations that Garcia saw, but no single one stood out, because Weiland was able to manage them. Those issues can stand out when unresolved and you have to brief leadership. Fortunately, he was able to resolve those before we had to elevate anything.

"He turned in to one of our rockstars," Garcia said of Weiland's abilities.

Weiland took his can-do attitude beyond his office work and applied it to his personal life as well. Garcia noted that Weiland, a physically fit guy, worked with a coworker struggling with fitness to put together a plan of action. The member would bring in lunch and eat at his desk, and Weiland would give him a look of disdain and disgust like “man, why are you eating that?” Garcia laughed, thinking back on the memory, "that look on his face, kind of a scowl kind of a smirk." Then Weiland would say he's going to the gym after work if the fellow airman wanted to join him.

Chief Master Sgt. Jason Lehmann, 132d LRS logistics plans superintendent and Capt. Joe Appenzeller, 132d LRS installation deployment officer learned of an opportunity to bring in a transitioning Active Duty 2G. Weiland had intentions of getting out and cutting ties from the military altogether, but he began looking into the 132d Wing. He took the path of Palace Front, which allowed him to exchange his remaining one year of active duty requirement into a guard contract. They welcomed then Staff Sgt. Weiland into the office as he played a significant role in assisting with Reserve Component Period-08, the window for the guard, which dictates how many members are required from each base.

Not knowing what to expect out of a unit that had recently been remissioned and no longer had a flying mission. "It was a bit of a culture shock going from active duty," Weiland said, but he quickly embraced it. Having a lot of technical knowledge in the career field certainly made the transition easier. It allowed him to hit the ground running in the guard, working in the deployment operations section.

 "Sergeant Weiland was instrumental in coordinating the movement of 97 people across 16 locations," Lehmann said. He kept the base on task, ensuring that the manning document was being appropriately followed, which resulted in the wing going 100% across all metrics for that RCP period. Lehmann credited him as a direct reflection of the work accomplished.

132d LRS Logistics Planner Master Sgt.  Katy Kuehn, noted of Weiland, “He has shown great leadership in his time moving from an enlisted member to becoming an officer.”

She has watched him perform as a great role model, teaching other members a variety of things he has learned both in going from Active to Guard and Enlisted to Officer. "It's something that helps him connect with a lot of the junior enlisted and NCOs as well as a large portion of the base population."

Seeing him return to Spangdalhem as a 2nd Lt and the IDO was wonderful for Garcia. "He has always been a super troop award winner, has won awards at the wing level and Majcom level here in USAFE, going up against some pretty stiff competition," Garcia said. He was one of those guys that you knew that he was going places. While there was a certain level of disappointment that he was departing the Active component, Garcia was glad he was transitioning to the Air National Guard, because the broader Air Force wouldn’t be losing him.  "Watching him come back here, seeing all the blood sweat and tears that we all went through to get him his degree to get him those awards, give him the background that he needed to succeed in OTS and other aspects of life, seeing that come to fruition was just fabulous," said Garcia.

On his return after being stateside for two years, Weiland was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of his former coworkers to reconnect. “It's great getting to see how much they have grown and changed,” he said.

“It has been quite the experience to come back and show the members of the 132d Wing what the 52nd FW and Spangdalhem AB is all about.”