167th Airlift Wing Airman Spotlight August 2022

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MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Staff Sgt. Kyle Leuschen is a loadmaster for the 167th Airlift Squadron and the 167th Airlift Wing’s Airman Spotlight for July 2022.

As a loadmaster Staff Sgt. Leuschen was responsible for properly loading, securing and escorting cargo and passengers on the wing’s C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. Leuschen was selected to be a pilot for the 167th and recently began the extensive pilot training requirements.

“Staff Sgt. Leuschen is the prime example of what a traditional Guardsman can achieve.  He completed his college degree while excelling in the loadmaster section,” said Chief Master Sgt. Mark Snyder, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the 167th loadmaster section. “His hard work and dedication to the unit and mission made him an easy selection for pilot training.  As he prepares to leave for Total Force Officer Training and become an officer, he continues to mentor and lead those around him.”

Hometown: Erie, Pennsylvania

Job Title: Aircraft Loadmaster

How long have you served in the unit? I just reached my 6 year mark this July

How does your job support the 167th's mission? As with any position in the military, enlisted aviators play an integral role in the overall scope of operations. As C-17 loadmasters, we are responsible for the overall safety and supervision of loading procedures. Whether we are hauling palletized cargo, vehicles, passengers, or a combination of each, we are the final authority in accepting the cargo for airlift. We are required to be able to perform our duties safely and precisely in time critical situations that are often high risk. It is our job to be proficient in our work and current in our flying qualifications and training. In doing so, we remain ready to answer our nation's call in fulfilling our role in mobility operations.

Education: Bachelor of Science in Environmental and Energy Resources Management from West Virginia University

Hobbies: Exercising, learning, cooking, general aviation flying, scrolling through Zillow looking at houses well out of my tax bracket, and anything outdoor related like fishing, hiking, and hunting.

Goals (military or civilian):  Make it through pilot training and fly the rest of my career with the 167th Airlift Wing. Eventually fly for a major airline on the civilian side. Possibly start my own small automotive business. I hope to one day incorporate the Erie International Airport into some of our local training sorties in an effort to spark a passion for aviation in the younger generations back in my hometown. As a kid, my mom and I would have picnics in the grass next to the airport so I could watch the airplanes take-off and land. Every once in a while there would be a C-130 unit doing pattern work, this was a huge contributing factor in my passion for the military and aviation.            

I am proudest of: Earning a pilot slot with the 167th Airlift Wing and the resiliency it took to get here. I am extremely excited and blessed to further my career with the amazing people that make our unit.           

People may be surprised to know this about me: My middle name, Patrick, was passed down to me from my grandfather Donald Patrick Drumm, who was a C-47 pilot in World War II.

The most exciting thing I've done in the military is: Traveling. Prior to enlisting in the military I had only been to four, maybe five states, and never out of the United States. Six years later I’ve been to almost every state and around 30 countries. Bringing troops home from combat deployments has been the most rewarding.

Some of the most valuable lessons I've learned throughout my career: Be proficient in your work. Be resilient to change and setbacks. Don’t take life or freedom for granted. Strive to make the world a better place.      

My advice to the newest Airmen in the Wing: Aim high. Set goals, even if they seem out of reach. Persistently working towards your goals will pay off over time.  

The best thing about working with my team is: The best part of working within the operations group is the people that it is composed of. I have made incredible relationships over the years and continue to do so. The level of care and support for each other is what makes our team great. It comes as no surprise that these relationships need to be solid, we have to be able to apply crew resource management and clear communication in the stressful environments that we operate in, especially after factoring in 20 plus hour work days.