Col. Douglas Wickert, 412th Test Wing commander, and Command Chief Master Sgt. Justin Stoltzfus met with Airmen in an unannounced visit to the First Sergeants’ Quarterly Dorm Dinner at Higher Grounds Café in building 2511, Sept. 7, 2023.
This visit was the just the latest opportunity for the two new 412th Test Wing leaders to meet and build rapport with Edwards Airmen. However, unlike the immersions that have filled their schedules recently this engagement didn’t have the formal expectation found at a jobsite. In fact, Higher Grounds was created as a place for single Airmen living in the dorms to unwind.
“Today was another great opportunity to not only engage with Edwards’ Airmen but to do so as guests essentially. This isn’t Headquarters in Bldg. 2750, this is their comfort zone which kind of removes some degree of formality that I think everyone really enjoyed,” Wickert said.
Although the Airmen went to the event expecting little more than a free meal, a chance to win raffle prizes, and—for some—a friendly game of chess, several took advantage of the opportunity to get to know their new leadership. The casual setting created a relaxed atmosphere that made Edwards’ top ranking duo approachable and encouraged a mix of candid conversations and lots of laughter.
Although it’s early in the tenure of this leadership team, Master Sgt. Maria Gomez, first sergeant for the 412th Operations Group, was encouraged by Wickert’s visit.
“It’s the first time in the four years that I’ve been and been planning these dinners that the wing commander has shown up,” Gomez said. “I think just him being here and showing up made him more approachable. I think the Airmen really appreciated it. I know I did.”