88th Air Base Wing commander says farewell

Credit: (U.S. Air Force photo by Wesley

Credit: (U.S. Air Force photo by Wesley

Colonel Miller attributes success through challenges to team

Two years ago, Col. Patrick Miller took command over one of the largest wings in the Air Force to guide it through exceptional global and national upheaval. The leader has kept Wright-Patterson Air Force Base gaining altitude through the turbulence since.

Miller will relinquish his seat to Col. Christopher Meeker during a change of command ceremony July 7 at 10 a.m. in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

Between boxing up favorite books and saying final goodbyes around base, Miller talked with Public Affairs to reflect on the highlights, advantages and trials of a remarkable 88 ABW tour.

Could you think back on your time as commander at WPAFB and walk me through the wavetops that stick with you?

Much of the last two years centered on adjusting to a new operating environment influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic and figuring out how to safely and effectively operate while taking care of our teammates and families.

In the midst of waxing and waning of COVID waves, we were able to establish the Air Force’s first aggregation installation, issue the second-most vaccinations across the Air Force, deploy to Detroit to support that community and many others, support Operations Allies Refuge/Welcome, realize the benefits of telework, shift the Air Force Marathon to a virtual race, inactivate the 88th Communications Group, and realign the 88th Communications Squadron to the 88th Mission Support Group and the 88th Operations Support Squadron to the 88th Air Base Wing as a direct report and so much more.

But none of this is possible without an amazing team, and that is what is going to stick with me the most.

Credit: (U.S. Air Force photo by Jaima F

Credit: (U.S. Air Force photo by Jaima F

What command achievements are you most proud of during your time here and why?

Upfront, let me say I did not achieve anything. I simply tried to set the conditions for the team to succeed. Beyond that, we experienced an unprecedented period where we could make rapid changes — one where we were only bound by our imagination.

Naturally, I am proud of all the mission accomplishments. Despite the harsh conditions, our team rose to the occasion to crush mission after mission. More important to me, though, is what we tried to do for the team and our families: Little Heroes; stand-up of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Office; Key Spouse Appreciation luncheon, deliberate professional development, and so much more.

Last summer, I was thrilled we passed the Unit Effectiveness Inspection, but what really excited me was the “highly effective” we earned in both communication and professional development. That told me we were doing things “Wright.”

Moving forward, what other developments are in store for wing personnel?

Expect more movement on the telework front as we adjust facility footprints to support this effort and eliminate unnecessary space. Also keep an eye out for consolidation of helping agencies into a single facility to cement the “No Wrong Door Policy,” easing access and improving support. Expect to hear more about housing renovations, integrated base defense, common operating picture and more. I am excited about the future, and you should be, too.

What were some expectations you carried into your role here? How did reality meet and veer from those expectations?

Leadership at every level is different. As the wing and installation commander, my goal was to be transparent and inclusive. I know I am not the expert, and I am farther away from mission execution than anyone else in the wing. My goal was to provide clear guidance, collectively rumble with sticky issues to get the best solution, and arm and equip the team to lead and execute. I was blessed to serve alongside remarkable leaders whom I completely trust, which made my job easy.

What do you like most about Chief Master Sgt. Jason Shaffer? What have you learned from working alongside him?

Chief Shaffer is selfless. He is committed to his family. Moreover, he cares about our Airmen. He awes me every day. Perhaps what I most appreciate is his resilience and drive. I could not have asked for a better wingman. He made me a better leader, officer and human. I cannot miss this opportunity to also say ‘thanks’ to Tawny, Dallas, Teagan and Ashlynn — you all rock! Thanks for your continued service and sacrifice.

What distinguishes Wright-Patt from other base communities you’ve served?

Every place is unique. The clear-cut answer is the people. Wright-Patt is fortunate to be part of a special community, one that fully embraces our team and our families. I cannot say ‘thank you’ enough to our community partners for working with me to improve the quality of life for Team Wright-Patt.

Where are you headed next, and what new skills and strengths do you feel equipped to carry from Wright-Patt to that new base?

We are off to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, where I have the honor to serve as the next director of Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces. Beth, the boys and I are sad to leave the 88th Air Base Wing and Team Wright-Patt, but we are also excited about the next adventure, as this is our first time in the Pacific.

Serving as the installation commander reinforced the importance of communication and collaboration, especially as we delivered “Strength through Support” to our 115-plus mission partners. Those skills will be essential to success in my next role.

We’ve seen you upbeat and on the job for the last two years, but what are some activities that helped you unwind?

We certainly had our share of hard days. The key is having multiple outlets. That way, when you have a bad day in one, you have others to turn to as a relief valve. I have an amazing, supportive family and network of peers that kept me grounded. In addition, I tried to read and work out every day.

I believe you need to stay committed to your family and self or you can be tossed around in the turbulence of life. And when life gets tough, watch reality TV. You will quickly realize your life is not as crazy as others.

How has your wife helped the wing, both alongside your objectives and in her own right?

Any success I have is purely a function of Beth. She is remarkable. She keeps me humble and has no problem giving me a swift kick in the rear when I am getting off kilter.

I firmly believe she has the harder job. Not only is she trying to keep the boys and me straight, but she is advising the Officer and Enlisted Spouses Clubs, serving as a mentor for the AFMC Squadron Commander Spouses Course, serving on the Fisher House Board, shaping the Key Spouse Program and more. She is passionate about our Airmen and their families and fights for them every day. I won the lottery with her.

What would be your parting message for the WPAFB community?

Beth, the boys and I will miss you. Wright-Patt will always hold a special place in our hearts. I wish I could look each of you in the eye and simply say ‘thank you.’

I know these past two years have been challenging, and I’m thankful for your patience, feedback and teamwork. Just know every decision had your best interest in mind. I may not have gotten everything right, but I did it with pure intentions. I serve because of you. Thanks for keeping the fire burning.

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