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Meet your leadership: Lt. Col. Michael Kersten, 39th MDSS commander

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Kersten, 39th Medical Support Squadron (MDSS) commander, poses for a photo inside the medical facility Aug. 23, 2016, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The 39th MDSS provides preventative and clinical health and wellness services for U.S. and coalition forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Nieves Camacho)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Kersten, 39th Medical Support Squadron (MDSS) commander, poses for a photo inside the medical facility Aug. 23, 2016, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The 39th MDSS provides preventative and clinical health and wellness services for U.S. and coalition forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Nieves Camacho)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --

This summer brought in many new faces to Incirlik AB. Many of these Airmen are new squadron commanders, group commanders and even a vice wing commander and command chief. To help members of Team Incirlik gain a better understanding of who their leadership is and what their expectations may be, the 39th Air Base Wing public affairs office, is releasing a series of personality features on our new leaders.

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

Answer: Originally, it was to get the GI Bill in order to finish college. I’ve continued to serve because every day is a new adventure and the Air Force continues to challenge me professionally and personally.

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

A: My proudest achievement was my time spent deployed to Balad, Iraq as the director of operations for the 332nd Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Flight. This was during the surge and we were launching one-three aeromedical evacuation missions per day. We moved over 1,100 patients during my time there. It was very rewarding to get those heroes to the care they needed and home to their families.

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

A: There’s no ONE in particular. As a Christian, my example is to be like Christ. He is my guide and affects all of my decisions. He teaches to do all things as unto the Lord and I believe this is synonymous with integrity first and excellence in all we do.

Q: 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?

A: As an airman 1st class dental technician, I was placed with the most difficult dentist to work with. He was known for yelling and throwing instruments. Learning how to work with him helped me to develop many leadership traits that I rely on today…patience, attention to detail, and cooperation.

Q: What is your personal mission statement?

A: My mission is to make those around me better. Whether professionally or personally. Helping others succeed brings success.

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

A: Integrity and courage. I expect my Airmen to approach every situation and decision with the mindset that they will do the right thing. The right thing isn’t always the popular choice to make. I want them to have the courage to stand in confidence even when the policies, guidance and those around them disagree. Progress doesn’t happen by the status quo.

Q: What is your strategic vision for your organization?

A: The 39th Medical Support Squadron will provide the best customer service to enable the delivery of world class healthcare. This in-turn will enable our wing to continue to provide and take the fight to those who would do us harm.

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

A: 1. Take care of the Airmen. The feedback system needs serious attention. Every Airman needs to receive productive, actionable and measurable feedbacks. 2. Stay out of the limelight. If we’re successful, nobody will know we’re here. 3. Support the mission. Day-to-day customer service to our patients as well as our leadership.

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

A: I expect my officers and NCOs to be leaders. I expect them to make decisions and take calculated risks in order to be innovative.

Q: What are your mission expectations from the units you lead?

A: I expect the 39th MDSS to provide outstanding customer service to both our external and internal customers. I want the front-line Airman to feel comfortable with challenging AFIs and policies that don’t make sense and prevent us from meeting customer needs.