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Meet the deployed squadron commander

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Erica Stewart
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Traveling all the way from Barksdale AFB, La., for his 10th deployment to Guam, Lt. Col. Patrick Mathews, 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron commander, has high hopes for this latest tour and his fleet of B-52 Stratofortress's. Public Affairs sat down with Colonel Matthews to discuss his life out of uniform, his views as a commander and the mission of this deployed bomb squadron.

Why did you join the Air Force?

Service in the military is a bit of a tradition in my family. Members of my family have served in various branches of the armed forces since the American Civil War. I chose the Air Force because my undergraduate degree is aerospace engineering and I've always been fascinated with flying.

If you could have any job in the world, besides the one you have now, what job would you have and why?

That's a tough question because this is the best job I've ever had. However, I think I'd like any job where the people I work with are quality and the mission is important. Sounds like the Air Force.

What has been the biggest accomplishment of your career?

I've always been very proud of graduating USAF Weapons School, but being selected for squadron command is by far the biggest accomplishment of my career.

When you're not being a commander, what do you like to do with your free time?

I'm a commander 24/7/365 until I pass the guidon off to the next guy. But in my free time I love to spend time with my wife and two kids, and when they let me, golf.

What one thing can you not live without?

I cannot live without camaraderie and fellowship.

What is your favorite band?

I don't really have a favorite band, but Allison Kraus is my favorite singer.

What kind of experience are you gaining by being a part of the continuous bomber presence?

Being deployed to Andersen allows the 96th EBS a unique opportunity to team build and focus on sharpening our war fighting skills. While we are here we are practicing the gamut of Air Force missions: strategic attack, close air support, interdiction, suppression of enemy air defenses, maritime interdiction, and the list goes on. While practicing these missions we learn and stress the command and control setup in PACOM and we practice employing a wide range of weapons, from sea-mines to ALCM. Last, the experience the aircrews gain by flying the various missions in the AOR makes them ready to execute any contingency missions that may come up.

How do you feel about being a navigator on the B-52? 

Being a navigator on the B-52 is great. We are the primary mission end of the aircraft. In other words, we are primarily responsible for dropping the bombs, programming and launching the missiles.

If you could tell every young man and woman in the air force something, what would you say?

Always strive to be the best at what you do and never lose faith in your fellow Airmen.

How many times have you been deployed and to where?

I've been deployed many times over the past 18 years. Several times to Guam; in fact, this is probably my 10th trip to Andersen. I've also deployed to CENTCOM on several occasions, both to Saudi Arabia and CENTCOM HQ. I've also been to Diego Garcia several times.

What is the hardest part of being the commander of the 96th EBS?

The thing I spend most my time on is people issues because it is incredibly important. Making sure we take care of the Airmen allows them to accomplish the mission.

What is the mission of the 96th EBS while deployed to Guam?

Our mission is to reassure our allies in the area of operation of the U.S. commitment to the region, deter potential aggressors, and, should deterrence fail, provide the USPACOM commander flexible options with the B-52's awesome firepower capability.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Without a doubt it is working with the awesome people we have to accomplish the mission. The military in general and Air Force in particular has the most capable, qualified, motivated, and dedicated people you'll find in any organization. It's great.

When you were a kid, did you ever think that you'd be a Lt. Col. in the Air Force?

Not really, I always thought I'd be in the military based on my family history but never really thought beyond that as a kid.