Q&A with Lt. Col. David Borden, new 434th MSG commander

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Lt. Col. David Borden assumed command of the 434th Mission Support Group during a change of command ceremony in early December 2023. To encourage members of the Grissom community to get to know him, outside of what can be found in his official biography, Borden sat down for an interview with a representative from the 434th Air Refueling Wing public affairs office for a “question and answer”-style interview in late January 2024.

As a disclaimer, this interview has been edited for length and, in rare cases, clarity.

Q: You’ve spent your career split between the enlisted and officer corps. What drove you to enlist?

A: I went off to college out of high school. I proved that I wasn’t ready for college, had too good of a time, and went to work full time in Huntsville, Alabama and worked there for two years. I was going to a community college at the same time and realized that I wanted to do more so I decided to enlist in the Air Force at 20 years old.

I was sworn in on Jan. 11, 1993, so I just passed 31 years. I joined active duty as command post, stayed seven and a half years before I transitioned into the [Air National] Guard as a Staff [Sgt.]. In the Guard, I made Tech. [Sgt.] and then went to the Reserves and I put Master [Sgt.] on and then 11 months later, a commission.

Q: What was the process like for the Deserving Airman program?

A: It was long and painful. I had made Master [Sgt.] and I was ready to give up on it, because they kept asking for more and more stuff for my package, or things were out of date and I had to redo it. Add in another official photo, all the things kept adding up.

So about two years into all of that, I went in one day and I was talking to my chief and I told her I'm done. I'm not doing this anymore. And so she pulled me into her office and let me have it and said ‘You're gonna proceed, you're gonna see this through.’ And so I'm like, ‘Yes, chief. I'll do that.’ Although I was willing to step away, she encouraged me to continue on. And without her influence, I would’ve retired 10 years ago.

Q: For anyone who might not know, what is within the scope of the MSG Commander?

A: I look at the role as taking care of, and feeding, the base. All aspects of the agile combat support branch, with all six squadrons taking care of Airmen, having the base ready, preparing squadrons to have our [traditional reservists] go downrange when need be. So that's kind of how I look at it. It's kind of like being an assistant principal.

Q: What aspirations or goals do you have for your tenure?

A: I think it's just to see people succeed and promote and grow. I love to see people's growth, their development and see them get promoted. I don't need it for myself but I love to see other people’s successes, making sure they're recognized whether it's a quarterly award, decoration or promotion to Chief [Master Sgt.] or Staff [Sgt.]. I love watching people recite the NCO creed for the first time, love it when you see a Senior [Airman] make Staff [Sgt.]. I think that's awesome.

Q: What do you want the “Big A” Airmen that fall under the MSG to know?

A: Take care of your people. Nothing bothers me more than people who don't think of others first. That's my biggest thing, I would say.

Grow your replacement. Make sure they're taken care of. If it's an Airman that’s brand new here, make sure that they understand where they're at and where they need to go. Educate them on the Air Force and opportunities abroad. And even on the base.

When I say ‘taking care of’, you're not only looking at their promotions and opportunities, but their safety and wellbeing too. If it's somebody who's not local and they live closer to another base, it’s making sure we get them serving at a base closer to their home. That’s the idea of feeding and taking care of our team.

Q: How do you spend your free time? Do you have any hobbies or favorite activities?

A: I play golf and camp, hang out with the dog. My wife and I have travel trailers so we go camping to be outside and stay active.

Q: What would people be surprised to know about you?

A: I truly care, it's not lip service. When I ask to get things done and think of other people, I truly mean it. I show some compassion because we don't know where people are coming from and what's going on. We need to make sure that we take care of people.

Rapid Fire
Q: Favorite food?
A: Mexican.

Q: Favorite type of music?
A: I can go classic rock, older country or grunge.

Q: Favorite book?
A: One that I read more recently, I really liked the book “Greenlight” by Matthew McConaughey. It's a really good book, highly recommended for everybody. It just talks about his life, provides context about his life and things that happened, how he stops to think and then proceeds on and just how he does things. It’s pretty good.