SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. --
American Film Actor, Humorist, and Social Commentator Will Rogers said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Similarly, the U.S. Transportation Command’s Protocol office works in unison so that the initial, second, and ultimately, final impression of both visitors and event attendees reflects well on the organization and its senior leadership.
“Protocol takes care of all the logistics so the command’s Top 3 (commander, deputy commander, and chief of staff) and the visitor can focus on the event. We greet the distinguished visitor upon arrival at the command and then escort them to, and from, the meeting location,” stated Sergio Gonzalez, chief, USTRANSCOM’s Protocol office. “There’s not a day that’s the same in this office. I enjoy the daily variety and unpredictability in our responsibilities supporting the command and commander. I also enjoying working with people, as Protocol is customer-service centric.”
Comprised of five federal civil servants, one U.S. Air Force Reservist on active-duty orders, and three Air Force Reserve Individual Mobilization Augmentees, USTRANSCOM’s Protocol focuses on successfully fulfilling several callings. In addition to coordinating DV visits, they set up the Top 3’s four to five daily meetings and also organize command senior leader-hosted conferences. For the latter, Protocol’s comprehensive preparations include reserving and readying the event location, transporting participants to and from the seminar site, and handling other logistics-related necessities to include attendees’ refreshment/meal choices and known food allergies.
“Every function we support is somewhat unique. Some are easy to plan and execute, while others are extremely challenging,” said USTRANSCOM Senior Protocol Officer Pete Wiederholt. “Regardless, the work is always rewarding because our efforts either support the mission through conferences and DV engagements or help recognize people for what they’ve accomplished.”
USTRANSCOM Protocol’s other duties involve providing applicable advice to the commander, USTRANSCOM’s Protocol office ensures the right first and lasting impression the command’s general officers, and senior executive service civilians, as well as administering all military ceremonies conducted within the organization such as promotions, retirements, and changes of command. They also monitor other DV engagements at Scott Air Force Base and at other applicable locations, as well as have a process in place for information sharing. For example, USTRANSCOM Protocol sometimes requires flight line and transportation support from the 375th Air Mobility Wing, the host unit at Scott.
While serving as the face of USTRANSCOM last year, Protocol organized and implemented 515 events, more than double from 2018. And so far in the first few weeks of 2020, they’ve coordinated, prepared, and supported almost 100 command engagements.
“Protocol consists of selfless servants working together to ensure a great first and last impression for the command and our senior leaders,” Gonzalez stated. “No job is too little for the Protocol staff. They’re willing and able to serve others. Simply put, I have a great team.”
USTRANSCOM exists as a warfighting combatant command to project and sustain military power at a time and place of the nation’s choosing. Powered by dedicated men and women, we underwrite the lethality of the Joint Force, we advance American interests around the globe, and we provide our nation's leaders with strategic flexibility to select from multiple options, while creating multiple dilemmas for our adversaries.