Meet your leadership: 39th CES Commander, Maj. Karl H. Recksiek

Maj. Karl H. Recksiek, 39th Civil Engineer Squadron commander, opens a water valve during a visit to the water treatment facility Aug. 6, 2015, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Recksiek took command of the 39th CES June 16, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Battles/Released)

Maj. Karl H. Recksiek, 39th Civil Engineer Squadron commander, opens a water valve during a visit to the water treatment facility Aug. 6, 2015, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Recksiek took command of the 39th CES June 16, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Battles/Released)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- The 39th Air Base Wing units are led by hand-picked commanders here and at geographically-separated groups and squadrons across the region. This series of features gives an inside look at those leaders and their leadership style. This feature highlights the 39th Civil Engineer Squadron, Maj. Karl H. Recksiek.

Question: Why did you decide to join the Air Force and why do you continue to serve?

Answer:
I applied to the U.S. Air Force Academy directly out of high school... and didn't get in.  I was interested in the Air Force and had applied to the academy for many of the basic reasons, such as to serve my country, get a good education on a full scholarship, and have a secure job after graduation.  When I didn't get into the academy, I attended college elsewhere for a year, but knew that I still wanted to attend the academy.  Therefore, I reapplied and was accepted the second time.  I joined the Air Force, and I continue to serve, because I love our country and have a deep sense of patriotism -- so serving our country seems natural to me.  In addition, the Air Force has been great to our family, and we love the comradery, the support and most of all, being part of a respected and professional community.  

Question: What is one of your proudest achievements in your military career? 

Answer:
I am very proud, and humbled, to be commanding the 39th Civil Engineer Squadron here at Incirlik AB.  Having been stationed at Incirlik before, I know what a unique and important mission we have as a wing and as a civil engineer squadron.  As engineers, I know that we will "Lead the Way!"  

Question: Is there a leader from your career that influenced you the most? If so, who, and how did they affect the way you lead?

Answer: I have had many mentors and leaders that I have learned from, including a retired colonel at one location who voluntarily took time to share experiences and insight with me.  He admonished me to make sure that I always take care of my troops and to not forget to take care of myself physically and spiritually.  He encouraged me to always set and work towards goals in all aspects of my life.  As part of this, he encouraged me to pursue a master's degree in construction management.  He also pushed me to work towards and obtain my professional engineer license.  Setting goals has helped me throughout my career to stay focused on what is important to me, be it spending time with family, studying foreign languages, getting higher education, delving into genealogy, bettering my photography skills, learning to build computers, or developing a new skill.  Never settle and always push yourself to be better... and help those around you do the same.

Question: Leaders often face a significant challenge or watershed moment early on in their careers that influence their formation as leaders. Did you have any moments like these that helped shape you into the leader you are today?

Answer:
My first deployment was to Kandahar, Afghanistan.  I left when my daughter was only two months old, and I was a brand new first lieutenant, so it was somewhat of a shock to my system.  I was the leader of a 10-person CE team responsible for keeping the base airfield operational.  This deployment was challenging and our team faced enormous obstacles, but working together, we met and excelled at all the tasks given us.  This experience opened my eyes to the challenges and joys of leadership, and also how focused hard work can achieve amazing results.  Having a can-do attitude (saying "yes, if..." instead of "no, because...") can go a long way in mission accomplishment.  

Question: What is your personal mission statement?  

Answer: I honestly have not ever written down a personal mission statement, but I do have many personal guidelines and convictions, such as:

- Live a life of integrity (be honest with myself and others)
- Work hard and do things right the first time
- Leave places better than I found them - this applies to my work, my base, my closet, my vacation site and dishes on the kitchen counter
- Learn and improve -be introspective, seek feedback, innovate, and set goals

Question: What values and ethics are the most important to you, and what do you expect from your Airmen? 

Answer: I believe strongly in the Air Force core values of Integrity first, Service before self, and Excellence in all we do.  I also remember and believe in the Boy Scout Law of being trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. These codes of ethics, among others, remind us that we always need to believe in something that improves ourselves, those around us, and our society and world.  And then we need to act accordingly.  This is what I expect from myself and my Airmen.

Question: What is your strategic vision for your organization?

Answer: My vision for our squadron is to always do our best and continue to support all of the missions that the Air Force and wing give us, and do so in a responsive and capable manner.  

Question: What are your leadership goals as a commander while here at Incirlik? 

Answer: My leadership goal is to help facilitate those under me to do their missions as efficiently and professionally as possible.  I want to encourage innovation, hard work and teamwork as we take care of the mission, Airmen and families.

Question: What are some of your expectations for the Airmen you lead, and why? 

Answer: I expect all Airmen whom I lead to be professionals, exemplify the Air Force core values, and exhibit great attitude, balance and credibility also known as the ABCs.  Our attitude is contagious and must always be positive, helpful, customer-oriented and professional.  In all aspects of our lives we must have balance, to include work and home, mission and people, leader and follower, now and later, work, play, and sleep, etc.  Finally, credibility makes our lives and work more effective, and it comes from being competent, confident, and consistent in all that we do.

Question: What are your mission expectations from the unit you lead? 

Answer: The civil engineer organization, both military and contractor, here at Incirlik is hard-working and very effective.  I expect us to always be aware of what is going on in the wing, so that we can lean forward and give our best contribution to the wing's mission and priorities.

Question: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer: I am a big believer in the Comprehensive Airman Fitness concept.  We all must be fit in all areas of our lives: mental, social, physical and spiritual.  We must always be striving for self-improvement and also to 'bloom where we are planted,' i.e. do our best job at the job we have.  In a small community like Incirlik, I look forward to meeting and getting to know as many people across the wing as I can.  Always feel free to say hello, and let's get the mission done together.