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#KnowYourMil: Lt. Col. Mary Goldsmith

  • Published
  • By Candy Knight
  • 4th Air Force Public Affairs

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, Calif. -- Lt. Col. Mary Goldsmith, Chief of Training for 4th Air Force's Operations, Plans and Requirements directorate, shares how her passion for flying led her to trade her stripes for bars.

Why did you join the Air Force?
“While I grew up in the Air Force I actually never intended to join. However, while in my freshman year of college I realized I should be doing something else until I was ready to finish my degree. The Air Force – at the time the Air National Guard – was a great opportunity at the time and ultimately that choice to join led me to where I am today in the Reserves.”

How long have you been in the Air Force?
“Twenty-three years as of July 2020.”

Why did you join the Reserve?
“I actually got my start in the CA ANG at, what was then, the 163rd Air Refueling Wing at March Air Reserve Base, Calif. I enlisted as a medical laboratory technician with the goal of finishing my bachelor’s and eventually going to medical school. After a few years, I realized I had different goals. So, I got my private pilot’s license and interviewed for a pilot slot at the 163rd. Thankfully, I was selected, commissioned, and went to pilot training in Del Rio, Texas. While at KC-135 training, the 163rd lost the KC-135 due to BRAC. Having just earned my wings, I wasn’t ready to give them up so I looked for other options. Again, thankfully, I was able to transition to the 336th ARS in the 452nd AMW shortly after completing KC-135 initial qualification training and my life in the Reserves began.”

Are you a full-time Reservist or traditional Reservist and why did you make that choice?
“Currently I’m an Air Reserve Technician. There are positives and negatives about each form of serving and some forms of service might be right for an individual depending on what phase of life they are in. It’s all about finding the right balance and the Reserves has always provided me the flexibility to serve in a way that fits our family’s needs.”

What is your current duty title?
“Currently, I am the 4 AF/A3T, Chief of Training. On any given day I could be approving missions for one of our 18 flying wings, reviewing and coordinating on regulations and guidance, providing clarification on training regulations. At 4th our job is taking care of the Airmen in our 18 wings and one Regional Support Group, so ultimately, if my day is spent doing my part for that, I feel like I’ve done good work, no matter what the actual task.”

You were a member of the Air Force's enlisted corp. Why did you choose to become an Air Force officer?
“I enjoyed my enlisted time and would have continued that route if I didn’t want to fly. But, because only officers fly in the Air Force and I wanted to fly, commissioning was the way to make that happen.”

What lessons/experiences helped you make the transition from enlisted to officer?
“Making the transition from enlisted to officer takes dedication, hard work, flexibility, and patience. There will be challenges along the way but keeping the ultimate goal in focus is key. ”

How does your experiences as an enlisted Airman help you as an officer?
“Hands down, having served as an enlisted Airman makes me a better officer on a daily basis. It gives me a bigger picture – the perspective a) that it’s not all about me, b) to never ask someone to do something I’m not willing to do myself and c) to take care of people the way I would want to be taken care of. I also think it serves particularly well in the KC-135 cockpit where we operate as a fully-integrated crew with pilots and boom operators.”

What are you proudest of in your life?
“My daughters who are currently 6 and 3. They are amazing and beautiful and amaze us on a daily basis. They teach me to look at things in a different way and help me work on my own patience. I love watching them grow into little human beings. Parenthood is by far the most challenging experience I’ve had, to include anything I’ve done in the Air Force, but it’s also the most worthwhile.”

What do you feel most grateful for in your life?
“There is definitely not just one thing and I find it changes day to day. In our house we do a daily “thankful-for” as a family and the answers can be widely varied – anything from “ducks” from our three year old to “cupcakes” from my 6-year old. I think the most common answer from my husband or I and it’s that we’re all together.”

When you have a tough day, what inspires you to keep going?
“Knowing that whatever it is, it’s temporary, and the thought that we are so very fortunate. If those thoughts don’t do the trick, I have a few friends (fellow Airman actually) who I rely on to help with my perspective and mind-set.”

What piece of advice has stuck with you throughout your career?
“Out of all the advice I’ve received, the one I rely on the most came from my Dad before I went to pilot training — ‘Never pass up an opportunity to keep your mouth shut.’ It was particularly helpful in pilot training!”