Lt. Col. Danny "Chip" Johnson, 75th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander, comes from a small town, one which doesn't even qualify for a "dot" on most maps - "a town where everyone knows everyone -- handshakes are contracts, your reputation is based on how you keep your word and how you uphold your family name."
Johnson said the advice he was given 19 years ago upon leaving town for the military was, "Never forget where you came from, remember your roots and uphold the honor of your family name."
He must be doing fairly well in following that advice as his name is now attached to another honorable name -- that of Gen. Thomas P. Gerrity in connection with the award given by the Air Force Materiel Command to an outstanding contributor in the field of logistics. Johnson was recently named AFMC's Thomas P. Gerrity Field Grade Officer of the Year and is now one of a small group of finalists for the award at the Air Force level.
"No commander wins any award without the phenomenal accomplishments of the men and women in his or her squadron," said Johnson. "The men and women of the 75th Logistics Readiness Squadron work absolute miracles on a daily basis to support both Hill Air Force Base's customers and the combatant commander ... and they do it better than anyone else. Without debate or question, it was their accomplishments that won this award."
To his credit, Johnson's logistics manager, Dave Avner, submitted the award packet while Johnson was on leave. The honor that one of his teammates submitted on his behalf surprised and humbled him, he said.
The accomplishments listed in his nomination packet cover many facets of logistics and show why he calls his squadron phenomenal:
A former four-day war fighter redeployment process is now two hours at 75th LRS. This new process, benchmarked by AFMC, allows returning warfighters to link back up with their families sooner rather than waiting to go through the base reintegration machine.
His squadron found itself at the epicenter of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force's "priority one" -- getting control of nuclear assets. In meeting this top priority, the squadron led the 75th Air Base Wing inventory of nuclear weapons related materiel assets with 100 percent accountability.
His hazardous materiel team's work netted the Secretary of Defense Environmental Quality Award. Lt. Col. Johnson's Petroleum Oil and Lubrication (POL) Flight was the first on the scene when a contracted tractor-trailer carrying JP-8 fuel crashed. His team's immediate response resulted in the recovery of 7,500 gallons of fuel worth $200,000 with no impact to the environment.
His mobility element personnel overcame drastic mobility bag shortages when they worked with their major command functional to get assets redistributed to Hill AFB. As a result, critical chemical defense assets were acquired and the LRS was able to equip 100 percent of the deploying personnel so they were fully equipped to fight.
On top of improving the quality of life for the four flights and 330 personnel he gained when taking charge of the squadron, he acquired $21,000 in furniture and arranged for a $25,000 self-help project which saved $60,000 in contractor costs.
His air transportation operations center lept into action when they responded to a no-notice Thunderbird support request. Their immediate action saved another Air Force base's air show. Just this past summer, he orchestrated the Logistics, Transportation and POL support for the Thunderbird spot for Hill AFB in the Air Force Week Salt Lake City Open House.
The other accomplishments in the package, which are many, covered everything from vehicle maintenance to stock control.
As a direct results of the 'daily miracles,' it's not surprising that his unit won the most awards at Hill AFB in 2009.
"I like to tell all our customers that the LRS squadron is really the LR"yes" squadron because the LRS team can make anything happen," Johnson said. "I also do my best to take care of my phenomenal LRS troops and to remind them daily that none of them are replaceable and everyone brings a special skill set to this incredible squadron. When the blue suiters deploy, we rely on our civilian teammates to keep the mission rolling until they return. We in LRS are a family and we must look out for one another on and off duty."
When asked about his personal leadership thoughts, the colonel replied, "My personal leadership thoughts are ingrained in the conduct of my daily duties, I simply adhere to my upbringing to make sure I represent my Savior, my family, my hometown and that I uphold the values with which I was raised in my day-to-day duties."
What does it take to be a logistics officer? Johnson said, "You must be versatile. The field (Logistics Readiness) covers such a diverse mission and there are no 'comfort zones.'"
When asked about his career field, Johnson said, "I think the reason it is interesting and challenging is because of the diversity of the mission requirements we support. From white collar stock control, to blue collar vehicle mechanics and everything in between nothing moves on this installation without the support of the LR'yes' Squadron." Then he noted that without the assistance of the LRS that base assets don't get where needed and troops sit.
When asked, in his eyes, what the LRS represents, Johnson stated "transparency."
"When LRS is at our best, meeting all requirements of the customers, getting the job done, we are transparent -- when we do what we are supposed to do, no one really should notice: Buses roll, vehicles are fixed, equipment is accounted for, fuel is delivered to the planes, passenger tickets are issued -- the mission just 'gets done.'"