New vice commander returns to Grissom

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Ben Mota
  • 434th Air Refueling Wing

Nearly everyone has a place in their heart they call home. While for many Airmen that place too often remains a memory, the 434th Air Refueling Wing’s new vice commander made it a reality after being selected for the position. 

“I've always had a special place in my heart for Grissom,” said Col. Brian Burr. “We have lived all across the country, and honestly this is where my family and I fit in the most.”

Burr, a resident of Carmel, Indiana returned to Grissom after serving as the vice commander for the 914th Air Refueling Wing, Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, Niagara Falls, New York.

“Hiring Colonel Burr was a no-brainer,” said Col. Larry Shaw, 434th Air Refueling Wing commander. “I have known him for a long time and can say he sincerely cares for his people and is a phenomenal leader. 

“He is invested in the mission and truly has a passion to serve,” added Shaw. “That dedication and leadership is something that I have fostered since I became commander, and I am sure he will continue long after I leave.”

While Burr’s leadership style was what initially stuck out, his long service history was another testament to his ability to lead, said Shaw. 

Burr graduated from the U.S Air Force Academy in 1996 and served active duty Air Force until 2012. While on active duty he performed in numerous capacities including squadron commander, instructor and evaluator pilot, environmental engineer and project engineer. 

As a KC-135 Stratotanker pilot with more than 3000 military flight hours, Burr has flown combat and combat support sorties in Operations Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Freedom Sentinel, Inherent Resolve and Joint Task Force Horn of Africa.

Echoing the qualities that Shaw said made him the best candidate for the position, Burr hopes to use his leadership style and experience to ensure the 434th ARW remains the wing of choice and to continue fostering the positive atmosphere Shaw has promoted.

“I have not seen a single issue he and I don't see eye to eye on, and I don't have a single thing on his agenda I would change because it falls in line with everything I truly believe in: taking care of everyone here and making us the best wing we can be,” said Burr. “He has done a great job with that.  

“He has resolved so many issues since he has been here, and I attribute that to the culture he fosters,” said Burr. “That attitude permeates through wing staff and his leaders and then down through the chain of command.”

While Burr’s short term goal is to support the commander’s priorities, his long-term goal is to ensure the 434th ARW remains a viable choice for future missions. 

“Long-term, I would like to see added mission sets to grow this base,” said Burr. “We are already doing things to make us viable in the future. Upgrades to the airfield, new bivouac area and construction upgrades, but we can't stop there. 

“We are well on our way to revitalizing the base for future generations,” he said. “I want our kids to have a place where they can come to serve their country in the future because that's important to me.”

“Burr’s service history at Grissom and knowledge of the base are a tremendous asset,” said Shaw. “I know he will use it to further grow the base even after I retire.”

Burr came to Grissom after leaving active duty in 2012 as the 72nd Air Refueling Squadron flight commander. In 2015 he was promoted to 74th ARS commander and again promoted to 434th Operations Group deputy commander before leaving Grissom for Niagara Falls.

Now that he is back, Burr sees his opportunity as vice commander from a new lens.

“You don't have an appreciation of what you have until you lose it,” said Burr.  “There are a lot of things that might have been underappreciated and now that I'm back I appreciate more. Friends, acquaintances, people I know,  familiarity as a human being, it's nice to be back.”

Moving forward Burr said he also wants to ensure he is keeping the trust of the Airmen here at Grissom. 

“We have to keep the trust of our Airmen and that starts with listening to them and understanding their needs,” said Burr. “One of the quickest ways to lose  trust is to mess with things like pay, quality of life and their work environment.”

“So number one is promptly taking care of any pay issues that might arise, and second part is quality of life, being happy to come to work,” he added. “We have to continue to foster a family environment. By family I mean that we take care of each other.”