Hill Air Force Base has gained its newest senior enlisted officer to serve as liaison between the enlisted force and Team Hill senior leadership. Chief Master Sgt. David Nordel arrived here from Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., where he had served as command chief for the 92nd Air Refueling Wing.
When asked about what's most important as he looks to his newest assignment as command chief of the Ogden Air Logistics Center and 75th Air Base Wing, he puts Airmen "with the big A" at the top of his list of priorities.
He also has a great sense of the interplay between all the different segments that make up Team Hill.
"In the traditional wing that doesn't have the dynamics that the (Ogden Air Logistics) Center has, you can focus on Reserve, National Guard and active duty. The majority of the civilians who work in (this) type of wing are GS employees so they kind of fall under the same construct. So it's three dimensional. The fourth dimension is the civilian piece - the civilians are just as much of a part of that 'Big A in Airmen' as the rest, so in conjunction and in partnership with Col. (Patrick) Higby and Maj. Gen. (Andrew) Busch, it's my responsibility to make sure that all four of those pieces and parts are taken care of at least in regard to the enlisted spectrum, but obviously with the civilians."
This assignment at Hill AFB is his first in Utah.
His family remains, for now, in Fair-child, Wash., where one of his children will graduate soon from high school.
He understands how important families are to the Air Force. "My family is an extension of me. I call it 'Team Nordel,' because even though we've all got our own little things going on we're an Air Force family and work towards Air Force things. My wife is very involved as well as my kids.
"The Air Force family is a dynamic thing that needs to be taken care of. I'll tell you every base, based on their deployment tempo and what their mission is, what the local community provides or if it has everything from recreation to medical care -- those type of things are important. For Hill the focus might be a little bit different but I will tell you that the most important thing is to get feedback from the families for what they need because we do have finite resources in the Air Force. "
Nordel has found in the past that listening to Airmen and their families about their most important needs can work very well in marshalling those resources for their benefit. Finding out what the top two or three areas of concern at a previous post were worked well after sorting through a list gathered at an Airman's function and provided a great opportunity to focus efforts to maximum effect, discovering new areas of focus that leadership hadn't even thought of before.
"The family is a customer to the Air Force. As a past wing commander used to say to me, 'It's soft combat power,'" he said. "Soft combat power is just as valuable as hard combat power - planes, bombs, things that we do when we're in (combat areas of responsibility). So we have to maintain our soft combat power just like we maintain our weapons systems and our equipment."
To serve in such an exclusive club -- the Air Force -- he said members gain a good and stable work environment, with 30 days of vacation the first year of service, emergency leave, great child care, lifetime country club and health club benefits but "in return -- the Air Force asks a lot of us -- there's no overtime, and you could be called upon to pay the ultimate sacrifice.
"But what you give is pretty tangible," he said. "Just put on your uniform and go through the airport and see what responses you're given -- people are pretty appreciative of what we're doing.
"The price of admission is maintaining a certain degree of cohesiveness and camaraderie," he said.
In Nordel's youth he worked on a dairy farm and learned a lot about hard work.
His first duty station was as a medical service specialist in a labor and delivery unit in Spain, putting him in a position of high responsibility right away. "You learn a lot about dealing with people when they don't feel good."
"You have to know when to be empathetic, sympathetic and compassionate and when you have to stop that and display leadership," Nordel said.
Ultimately he views his role of command chief this way: "Sgt. Stephanie Powell (executive assistant to the command chief) is the only employee I have - I work for everybody else as the enlisted liaison officer between the enlisted and the senior leadership of the four pillars of Hill on the issues of quality of life, readiness and training.
"I believe in servant leadership -- I serve to lead and lead by serving."
He wants those seeking assistance from him to know, "I am only as good as the amount and accuracy of the information I receive so please so be sure and fully appraise me."