Military News

Friday, March 27, 2015

Shadow the Chief: Meet Staff Sgt. Candace Wilder

by By Airman 1st Class Kedesha Pennant
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


3/27/2015 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- It's a Thursday morning and a cheerful, confident staff sergeant stands in front of a room full of base leaders to introduce herself and speak about her family and future goals. The young noncommissioned officer was prepared for the day ahead of her--ready to benefit from the level of mentorship she was about to receive from the base's chief enlisted advisor.

Staff Sgt. Candace Wilder spent the day with Chief Master Sgt. Eddie Webb, 7th Bomb Wing command chief, as a part of his monthly "Shadow the Chief" program. The program is designed to give Airmen a chance to observe how their individual roles contribute to the overall mission success and add to their knowledge to help continue shaping their Air Force careers.

The Utah native is the 28th Bomb Squadron aviation resource management assistant and has been stationed at Dyess for nearly four years. She is married to Staff Sgt. Ricky Wilder, a 39th Airlift Squadron loadmaster. Both her parents served honorably in the Marines, who taught her the value of work ethic and discipline.

Wilder joined the Air Force on a whim, yet ever since, she has had aspirations to succeed at the job she loves.

"My inspiration to succeed is simply the love I have for the job I do," Wilder said. "Once you figure out how your job plays into the bigger picture or mission, it's inspirational enough to think, 'Wow, I am a part of that,' especially when a B-1 takes off or I hear of our success overseas."

Wilder went into the day with Chief Webb ready to see the senior leader in action and learn from his perspective.

"I truly had an amazing day, although it was quite the rollercoaster of events," Wilder said. "Nothing was exempt from his 'to-do' list. I went in with a completely open mind, so I was able to soak it all up as the day went along."

In the midst of attending a funeral and several meetings during their day, Wilder noted she thoroughly enjoyed their side conversations.

"The best moments were the car rides to the next event or waiting on the next meeting to start, where we were able to chat about anything," Wilder said. "Our conversations ranged from discussing our passions to telling my most humiliating Air Force story--it was a great laugh for both of us."

During their mentoring session, Wilder absorbed an array of knowledge and advice from Chief Webb. This is what the "Shadow the Chief" program gives Airmen a chance to obtain from the command chief's 29 years of experience.

"We discussed everything from family, education, being a young NCO and supervisory roles," Wilder said. "As a young NCO, we talked about the importance of taking on leadership roles.

"We have to get out of the mindset of being a part of the Air Force for simply a job.  A great amount of time, money and other resources are spent to develop Airmen of all ranks, so we can prosper as mentors and leaders."

Exuding the values her parents instilled in her were beneficial as she recently won the 2014 Air Force Aviation Resource Manager Award for Airman of the Year and the 2014 Team Dyess Annual Award for Airman of the Year.

"The excitement I felt brought on a humbling experience," Wilder said. "My name is engraved on the awards, but I know I am just a representative of an amazing, hardworking team."

Wilder's future goal in the Air Force is to become a commissioned officer. Currently, she is finishing her last class to receive a bachelor's degree in sociology. She plans to prepare for the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test to begin her journey to Officer Training School.

"When I mentioned officer training school to Chief Webb, at first he heckled me for wanting to make that transition," Wilder said. "Joking aside, though, he stated that it did not matter which rank I display as long as I still wear the uniform. This was important for me to remember because no matter where we end up in the Air Force, we are on the same team."

Wilder offered some advice to Airmen based on knowledge she's learned from her Air Force career.

"The advice I would give to Airmen is to grasp the concept of tact and delivery," Wilder said. "How we speak to one another is absolutely vital to bettering our careers.  It helps us with networking and keeping ties to help us at some point in the future.
"Approaching one another with the right amount of respect and appreciation for what that other person can do is absolutely necessary."

The most impactful advice she said she received from the command chief was keeping our passion and maintaining professionalism.

"No matter where we work, we will come across leadership, coworkers, subordinates and others  we may not agree with," Wilder said. "However, we have a responsibility to keep our passion. As long as we keep our passion for our career, or the Air Force in general, no one can break you down."

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