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YARS will never leave me

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Christina Russo
  • 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Throughout the years, Youngstown Air Reserve Station has left its mark on the Airmen that have come and gone. For Col. Don Wren, 910th Mission Support Group commander, the installation has done it once again. 

Wren conducted his final commander’s call with the 910th MSG on Saturday, Nov. 2, before he departs for a new assignment. While preparing to leave YARS, Wren reflected on his time at the installation. In doing so he noticed a common thread among his memories. 

From his first moments at YARS, Wren was captivated. It didn’t take him long to realize the installation’s beauty was the common thread. It wasn’t the physical appearance that impressed him the most, but rather, something internal to the men and women of YARS. 

“The true magic of YARS, and most striking, is the people,” said Wren. “The people here have heart. They understand the mission and create an environment of family.”

Wren knew his first and foremost role as 910th MSG commander would be taking care of his Airmen. He understood his Airmen’s success would be a direct result of his leadership abilities. 

“My job, my purpose, is to help others with their problems and challenges and help them succeed,” said Wren.

Throughout his military career, Wren has chosen to lead from behind in a supportive role, because he understands that being a leader is not about being in front. His leadership approach allows him to take a step back and watch his Airmen flourish.

Chief Master Sgt. John Koehl, 910th Mission Support Group superintendent, has been able to witness Wren’s ability to lead for quite some time. 

Koehl said that people who don’t know Wren well sometimes aren’t sure what to make of him. 

“I’ve known him for a long time,” said Koehl. “He puts on a big front sometimes…when truly he is the most caring individual of Airmen that I have ever met.”

Wren said that during his time at YARS, he learned about the invaluable trait of humility from his fellow Airmen. It’s the trait that taught him there are times when he should take off his rank and times he should put it back on. 

“Nothing I have ever done in this position is harder or more difficult than any challenge, heartache or effort of any person here,” said Wren. “In fact, mine are less important.”

Wren attributes the Airmen’s readiness to their overall resiliency. 

“Nothing is too hard and no place is too far for them to go in supporting the mission and each other,” said Wren. 

Between Wren’s ability to lead and the willingness of the Airmen at YARS to support the mission, it was a perfect match. With no uncertainty, Koehl knew Wren would succeed at YARS because of his determination to fulfill his duties as a commander. 

“For Wren, it’s always about the mission and it’s always about the Airmen,” said Koehl

Wren recounts learning many things during his stint in command of the MSG, but one thing will remain forever. 

“I am beginning to realize now that I can leave YARS, but YARS will never leave me,” said Wren.

Wren hit the ground running when he arrived at YARS, and now that it’s time for him to move on to his next assignment, he leaves the Airmen here with some words of wisdom. 

“I would tell them they are on a journey like no other,” said Wren. “There will be peaks and valleys, good and bad times, and times to laugh and times to cry. They will not get to the end of this amazing journey without help and should not strive to do it alone. They will need to lean on their fellow Airmen, supervisors, chiefs and officers for mentoring, counsel and correction when needed. The journey is the reward, not the individual actions taken every day.”

As much as Youngstown Air Reserve Station as left its mark on Wren, the colonel has left his mark on the installation.