Chief Master Sergeant Stephen A. Arbona serves as the command chief master sergeant for the Air Force Materiel Command’s 88th Air Base Wing, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. As the senior enlisted leader, he will provide advice and counsel on enlisted issues to approximately 3,700 officers, civilians and enlisted members across the wing and will represent approximately 1,300 enlisted personnel assigned to the 88th ABW. Chief Arbona primarily focuses on deployment readiness, professional development, proper utilization and welfare issues of assigned Airmen and their families. He also will advocate the installation commander’s policies, organizational goals and objectives to the wing personnel, ensuring adherence to standards and mission accomplishment. Before assuming his current position on May 16, he was the superintendent of the 11th Security Forces Group, 11th Wing, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. He enlisted in 1991.
Q. It's your first day "on the job." It's unfair to ask, but how is it going so far?
Arbona: Well I think it's going pretty good, but maybe we should ask my teammates. On a serious note, right now I am just taking it all in. I will say that this transition has been one of the smoothest I've experienced to date and the support I have received has been great.
Q. What most excites you about assuming your new post?
Arbona: The two main aspects of this positon that excite me most are that I have always loved new and challenging positions. And I know this position will present me with challenges I've never encountered before so I will have to rely on my judgement, experience, training and education to get me through. Secondly, I am excited about being able to help an array of people and be able to have a whole other level of impact.
Q. What are your main responsibilities as command chief of the 88 ABW?
Arbona: My primary roles are to provide sound, honest and candid advice to the commander, vice commander and the rest of the leadership team. I am also here to help all of our Airmen … big "A." It's my job to help anyone who needs my advocacy or help regardless if they are enlisted, officer, or civilian … I'm here for everyone.
Q. What are your priorities as you assume leadership of the enlisted personnel here at Wright-Patt?
Arbona: My priorities are to learn all of the intricate details of the units assigned to the 88 ABW as well as our mission partners here on Wright-Patterson AFB. I will also foster positive working relationships with the various leadership teams here on Wright-Patt. Again, that goes for 88 ABW assigned organizations as well as our mission partners. Additionally, I will continue to ensure the policies and priorities of the Air Force and commander are being executed.
Q. What's a little-known fact or aspect about you or your command style you would like our readers to know?
Arbona: I am passionate, energetic and have little tolerance for leaders who put themselves first. Regardless if it's a first line supervisor, chief or commander, it's our job to take care of our Airmen so they can take care of the mission. I take being a servant leader as a serious profession and I expect other leaders to do the same.
Q. You have served everywhere from the Pentagon, North Dakota and Maryland to Germany, the United Kingdom, South Korea and Japan. How have those assignments prepared you for this assignment?
Arbona: I have been very fortunate to have had almost half of my assignments working in organizations that contained multiple Air Force Specialty Codes. Being exposed to the perspectives of other career fields has helped me understand their thought processes and opened my aperture when I am looking at a problem or situation; I'm not one dimensional.
Q. A year from now, what would you like to say you accomplished in that time?
Arbona: I am not coming in with a predetermined agenda and I don't know what I don't know. However, I would say that we were able to resolve any issue be it preexisting or new with little to no negative impact to the mission or men and women who execute our mission.
Q. What do you hope your legacy will be?
Arbona: Well that's a tough question to answer because I've not been here long enough to really observe what's going on around the base. However, I would say that I believe we can always do more to better mentor and grow the future leaders of our Air Force. I would hope my legacy will be that I shaped an environment of continual development and a culture where everyone willingly helps everyone else in their development. One of my favorite quotes comes from James Keller, who said, "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle."
Q. What do you like to keep on your desk? What's a memento that means a lot to you?
Arbona: My desk top normally contains the essentials — in and out-boxes, a calendar, a name placard and a desktop humidor. My favorite memento is one I received back in April of 2004 when I was PCSing. As a young technical sergeant, I worked with an amazing group of professionals and as the non-commissioned officer-in-charge, I was able to get all of them recognized for various awards, to include numerous awards at the squadron and group levels, two wing levels and one Air Force level; our program even won a Department of Defense award. However, I was never able to win at the squadron level myself. At my going-away dinner my section presented me with a crystal trophy that reads…. "Steve "Esteby" Arbona — Uncrowned. Undisputed Heavyweight Champ of the World." To this day, when I read it, I feel good that a group of young NCOs and senior Airmen thought that highly of me. I was and am truly honored, and it is my most cherished going-away present because it came from the hearts of my teammates; they were sincere.
Q. What do you like to do for PT (physical training)?
Arbona: I like to mix it up. I get bored easily when it comes to exercising so sometimes I'll just go out for a long run, other times I'll use various exercise equipment, while other times, I'll play a sport like basketball. It really depends on the weather.
Q. When you're not working, how do you like to spend your time?
Arbona: Spending time with my family, which usually involves some sort of activity like walking, riding bikes or cooking. I also enjoy a good cigar accompanied by a good Scotch.
A: I just want to close by saying how humbled and excited I am to be a part of the Mighty 88th and I look forward to meeting all the Airmen across the wing and the base.