Meet your new leadership: Col. Mark Anarumo, 39th ABW vice commander:

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Veronica Pierce
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
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. 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: I wanted to be in the armed forces for as long as I can remember, even as a very small child. As I entered teenaged years I became increasingly fascinated with military culture and history. In a way I am very fortunate because I always knew exactly what I wanted to do. I joined the Army after my 16th birthday and served on active duty for three years, eventually reaching the rank of corporal in the cavalry and armor combat arms. When it came time to reenlist I had some tough choices in front of me. I loved being in the Army but had been exposed to the Air Force at several points in my career. While I am grateful for the foundation the Army gave me, I will just say the two departments are quite different and making the change from "green to blue" was quite appealing! I had also started college while stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, and knew I wanted to earn a degree. After quite a bit of research I decided to go to college full time and pursue a commission in the Air Force. Everything has worked out pretty well!

I continue to serve because honestly I love what we do. I consider it a profound honor to wear the uniform of our country. Serving on American soil is rewarding because I believe the citizens of the United States deserve protecting. Serving overseas has a very unique set of rewards, including serving as an ambassador of the United States. I just honestly love serving, enjoy spending time with others who have chosen to serve, and I believe in who we are as American Airmen.

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

A: I'm proud of every team I've been a part of, but as with most people my time on deployment is a source of significant pride. I had the strange experience of being in Saudi Arabia on 9/11, and served subsequent tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kuwait, in addition to a one-year tour at Kunsan, South Korea. If I had to pick one moment it would have to be the role I played in the rescue of an abducted female Airman in Kyrgyzstan. She had gone missing and, depending on who you ask, was either a prisoner of war or a kidnapping victim. She vanished pretty much without a trace, and the Air Force brought in some very high-end resources to try to find her. One night, out of nowhere, some local contacts we had developed over the previous six months gave us some information that we considered credible. I grabbed a few folks and was able to find her, and we basically took her back without a shot fired. It was an interesting night!

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: I've had the pleasure of serving under some truly outstanding leaders in both the Army and Air Force, but the one who influenced me the most is the officer who commissioned me, Col. John Desmond. Although I was a high performer in ROTC, I had some "experiences" in college that could have derailed my career before it even started. Colonel Desmond took the time to mentor me and to redirect some of my mischievous energy towards more noble purposes. He retired in 1993, but has made it to every one of my promotions, including my pin-on to colonel earlier this year. When faced with my antics, a lesser man would have written me off as too much of a project, but he spent the time to make me into an asset for the Air Force. I will never forget how he treated me and how he taught me to direct my energy in constructive ways.

Q: What is your personal mission statement?

A: Stated clearly, my personal mission statement is "Always Look Forward".

There is one thing about my outlook that often surprises people; I now realize it has contributed heavily to my success. Quite simply, I never think that the best is behind me. The past is important, and the lessons and how we apply them make us who we are. I always feel that "right now" is the best part of my life, and that more great things are in front of me. I appreciate every moment wherever I am and do everything I can to make the most of every situation. When looking forward, whether it's a permanent change of station, promotion, travel opportunity, or anything else, I feel like the next "thing" will be the new best moment of my life. I feel the same way after the next thing is over...I am just always optimistic about where I am now and what is next.

I often think about people I grew up with who kind of "plateaued" during young adulthood. Their perspective is they had already reached the peak of their lives, and in their minds everything since then has been a downhill slide. In my mind, it's much better to feel everyday like where you are right now is the best moment of your life, and tomorrow will be even better. If that's not the case, you should change your situation to make it that way.

At the end of the day, it's ok to appreciate the past and to cherish memories, but looking forward with excitement and optimism has served me well.

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

A: This is an easy one: Always carry your weight, and never be a liability to your team. Everyone has a purpose and a role in an organization, whether in a small shop or an entire Air Base Wing. Figure out your purpose and be better at it than anyone else on the planet. If you do not perform, the person next to you has to work twice as hard to keep the organization on track. Don't ever be that person that makes someone else work harder to take up your slack. Understand and appreciate your role on the team, and I can assure you everything will work out the way it should.

Q: What is your strategic vision for your organization?

A: As the vice commander, this is simple: My strategic vision is the same as the wing commander's. The vision is to make this the greatest wing you will ever be part of. To support that vision I will do everything in my power to make it the most professional, competent, and enjoyable place to work in the Air Force. I have never been part of a team that wasn't the best. We are going to be the best at everything. Simple, right?

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

A: Being a vice commander can be strange. Though I am the second in command on the base, I am not a commander in the traditional sense. However, I am a leader and I take that very seriously. Honestly, the wing commander sets my goals for me. I will achieve those goals as my own. That is my role on this team. When the wing commander is off the base, even for an extended time, I will act as if I were him. Good leaders know how to follow, and my job right now is to follow the wing commander's guidance and perform in accordance with his standards and vision. You will not see me perform contrary to that, ever!

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

A: I am proud to be the vice commander of the 39th ABW. I am excited to be here, and plan for this to be the best assignment of my career. This can and should be the best place to be in the Air Force. Let's work together to make it that way.