After 40 years service, colonel brings total force to ice

  • Published
  • By Paul Zadach
  • 934th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

In 1975 Sony introduced the Betamax home video recorder, the Vietnam war came to a close and in Super Bowl IX the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Minnesota Vikings, 16-6.  That was 40 years ago and since the average age of an Air Force Reservist is about 37, most won't remember these events.  But 1975 was also the year when Col. Cam LeBlanc enlisted in the Air Force.  Not many Air Force members active or reserve make it to the 40 year mark, but LeBlanc capped off his career this month retiring from the 934th "Global Vikings".

LeBlanc actually spent two tours of duty with the 934th.  First from 1997 to 2002 as the Logistics Group commander, then returning in 2012 as the Maintenance Group commander which was his final assignment. 

"A lot has changed in the Air Force since I came in," said the colonel. "There were very few women in the maintenance field then, and now it is not uncommon.  People smoked everywhere.  They smoked in the hangar, in the expediter trucks and even in the airplanes."  Today that behavior is almost unimaginable.   The Reserve at that time was much more detached from the active duty with Reservists largely called upon only in times of crisis.  "We are now a part of the Total Force where the Reserve and active duty work together seamlessly and I think we are doing a good job with that," LeBlanc said.

When he first enlisted in the active duty Air Force, LeBlanc didn't envision himself where he is today.  "I wasn't sure how long I was going to stay in, and I didn't see myself becoming a colonel," he said.  I looked at my Training Instructor, Tech. Sgt. Steele, and thought he was pretty high up there in rank, I looked up to him.  But when I got out in the field I really liked what I did, and that was working as a flying crew chief on the B-52.  I liked what I did so I just kept going.  I remember the first aircraft I was on and thinking it was old since it was built in 1961.  It was aircraft 1040 and it is still flying today," he said.

When LeBlanc was not wearing his Air Force uniform he could often be seen dressed in hockey attire supporting his favorite team, the Minnesota Wild.  His involvement in hockey does not stop at being just a spectator.  The colonel still plays goalie in an amateur hockey league.  So retiring in what some call the "state of hockey" seems to be the perfect fit for him.  His Air Force heritage is reflected in the new goalie mask he had custom made as a sort of retirement gift to himself.  The mask is painted with the Air Force logo, colonel eagles and aircraft LeBlanc has been associated with throughout his career.  "When I play hockey against military members they seem to give their shots a little something extra when they know they are shooting at a colonel," LeBlanc said.

While the hockey mask is unique, so are some of the aspects of his Air Force career.  During his time as a Logistics Support Group commander, which was when squadrons were organized differently than today, LeBlanc commanded supply, contracting, transportation and fuels where he gained an understanding of the people and missions unique to those areas.  His wife Pam, retired as a colonel three years ago and was a former mission support group commander.  "Living with an MSG commander gave me some unique insights into the the support side of the mission," he said.

LeBlanc has had a simple philosophy he has used throughout his career as a commander.  "Do your best, follow the tech orders or AFIs, and I've got your back."   That philosophy was key in helping to mentor others for future leadership positions.   "I think the best thing about my career was being able to see people I have helped to move on to become MXGs, NAF A4s or general officers.  One that comes to mind who was my deputy when I was here the first time is Maj. Mo Banavige, now Brig. Gen. Banavige.  Of course it has a lot to do with them and what they have done, but it's very satisfying to me to have been a part of it."