Meet the Chief

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Tambri Cason
  • 307th Bomb Wing

Chief Master Sgt. Leonard Werner III took his new position as the 307th Bomb Wing command chief August 8, 2021. Werner was 17 when he entered active duty. Four years later he decided to pursue a civilian career in law enforcement. He was honorably discharged from the active component and joined the Air Force Reserve Command. The New Jersey native took time from a busy first day in the office to answer a few questions and provide some insight into his motivations to serve and leadership philosophy.

Q: Can you tell us a little about where you’re from and what influenced you to join the Air Force?

Chief Werner: I’m from the great state of New Jersey; lived there my whole life. I’ve been married for 22 years and have two daughters. As far as my influences to join the military, I come from a military family. My dad was a Vietnam vet, and both my grandfathers were Purple Heart veterans in World War II.

Q: Being a Traditional Reservist isn’t easy, but you’ve been doing it for over 20 years. What motivates you to keep going?

Chief Werner: When September 11th happened, I was one of the first responders that went to Ground Zero in New York City. Being part of that in history and witnessing that was when I really committed to a life of service. Whether it be the police department or the military, that’s one of the things that motivates me. As far as coming up in the ranks and being a chief, I always tell people that my success comes from the success of the airmen that are coming up behind me. Those folks that are coming up are my drive and desire to keep doing what I’m doing.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your philosophy of leadership?

Chief Werner: I think it is important to get to know your people and as you get to know your people, you kind of see what their niches are, what motivates them. I think it’s really important to make sure that you have a solid team. Coming from the law enforcement world, trust is everything, integrity is everything for us. I think when Airmen come in and they trust their leadership, they trust the people that they’re working around, it just makes it a cleaner and nicer work environment. It makes people want to work. You find those ‘diamonds in the rough,’ so to speak, and make sure that you’re growing those people to be our next leaders. That pays dividends in the future.  

Q: What are your expectations as a leader and what can the enlisted Airmen expect of you?

Chief Werner: I’m big on accountability. There are a bunch of ways to get from point A to point B and I think a lot of times with our Airmen we have to make sure that we steer them, but at the same time they have to be accountable for themselves. They have to have that initiative to want to be successful. We need to make sure that we’re paying attention to our future leaders and that we’re looking at education, certifications and experience in different fields.

Q: The Air Force has changed since you first enlisted. How has that influenced you as a leader?

Chief Werner: I would say that communication is most important. When I came into the Air Force, it was kind of like hey, this is what needs to be done, go do it, type of thing. Sometimes that works, but I think it’s important for us to explain to folks why we do things the way we do.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Chief Werner: I’m looking forward to starting here at the 307th Bomb Wing. I’m not a guy who sits behind the desk; I want to be out with the 307th folks. I want people to tell me their stories. We all have different reasons for why we’re here and motivated us to be here. I’m sure their stories will drive me to continue to do better here.