By Nancy Gould, Hunter Army Airfield Public AffairsJune 12, 2009
HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. Aca,!" Lieutenant Colonel Jose Aguilar, Hunter Army Airfield's new garrison commander, is grateful for his early years in Mexico before moving to Texas at age 10 with his four younger sisters. As the son of a migrant worker, he didn't have television or the typical possessions of most American kids - but he did have fun.
His time in the third-world country instilled valuable lessons that have shaped the motto for his life and career - to love and serve your Family, and love and serve your country, which, according to Lt. Col. Aguilar, stems from the Hispanic cultural mindset that all youth should serve their nation and get basic military training.
"People are people wherever you go," said Lt. Col. Aguilar, who assumed the Hunter command on May 28 and holds a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and a Master's degree in business administration-aviation management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Throughout his career, his assignments and interaction with diverse communities all over the world give credit to that philosophy; he said they have similarities and differences.
"We should celebrate those differences," he said. "It's diversity of culture that makes this county great. Our differences are beautiful; they give each of us our own unique stamp."
Lieutenant Colonel Aguilar came to Hunter from the Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District, where he worked primarily with a civilian workforce, serving as the deputy commander for 16 months, managing a $450 million civil works/environmental program.
Prior to that, he had a much different assignment-he spent 15 months in Iraq as second in command of the Soldiers of the 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, where his unit was responsible for route-clearance operations in Northern Iraq.
Leadership of Soldiers and civilians is basically the same, Lt. Col. Aguilar said.
"You don't just bark orders. To accomplish the mission, you have to get their 'buy in.'"
He also believes in empowering employees to perform, as long as they use a logical, offensive mindset.
"I tell them not to hold back on work, waiting for guidance; get the work done," he said.
He said he doesn't appreciate laziness, but said nobody's head gets put on the chopping block for making a mistake.
"I use mistakes as opportunities to mentor and to discover why we failed," he said. "We're a team; if one fails, we all fail. We're always learning from one another and discussing how we can improve."
Lieutenant Colonel Aguilar gave additional guidance to leaders and staff who gathered in the garrison conference room the afternoon after assuming command.
Suzanne, his wife and 'battle buddy' of 16 years, attended the gathering. His children, Jocelyn, 14, Allison, 13, and Joey, 11, did not attend because they were finishing up the school year in Portland, Ore.
"He's all about Family," said Glenda Johnson, Hunter Army Airfield garrison secretary. "He wanted his wife to begin meeting the Hunter community, especially since she'll be so involved."
Ron Heath, the Hunter Army Airfield safety manger, met Suzanne at the garrison gathering. "His Family is obviously important; so is work. He's got a strong sense of direction."
Hunter's direction for the next two years will be guided by Lt. Col. Aguilar. He said he will make decisions objectively, guided by the principle of doing the right thing with no personal agenda. He and his Family look forward to their time in the Hunter and Savannah communities.