Meet the Commander: Maj. Joshua Connell

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

From sailing the open seas during the Gulf War to leading the training exercises at Tyndall’s Silver Flag site, the new Red Horse Detachment 1 commander never thought he would be where he is today.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Joshua Connell recently assumed command of the 823rd Red Horse Det. 1 Silver Flag site. He leads the mission of providing contingency combat support training to active duty, Air Force Reserve Command, Air National Guard, Army, Marine Corps and allied nations mission support group personnel.

Before he was a commander, he served four years in the U.S. Navy. Connell said he joined the Navy as a young man to serve his country after the conflicts during the Gulf War.

Connell went into the Navy ready to do any job they gave him. Joining in July 1994, the first two years of his enlistment he worked on the ship’s anchor detail. During battle drills and some real world threats, he was on the load crew for the Phalanx Close-In Weapons System, loading 20mm rounds for a defensive system designed to take down air threats against the ship. He eventually locked in a position as a navigation specialist until he separated in 1998. 

“When I was a 19-year-old E-1 in the Navy, I never imagined being a lieutenant colonel select and detachment commander in the Air Force,” Connell said. “I did know that I wanted to go to college and do the best I possibly could in the Navy.”

Striving to be the best, Connell pursued excellence at every turn.

“I worked hard and did the best I could in every task the Navy gave me,” Connell said. ”When my four years of enlistment were over, I was an E-5, a petty officer second class, and I had an acceptance letter to the University of Maine.”

After his enlistment, he attended the University of Maine and joined the Maine Air National Guard, where he not only learned from his studies, but gained experience from being deployed multiple times.

Connell’s interest in joining the military full time was quickly reignited on a day that changed America – and the world.

“It was during my senior year of college when the Sept. 11 attacks occurred in New York and the Pentagon,” Connell said. “The Sept. 11 attacks drove my interest to serve on active duty again, and I believed the Air Force was the best service suited for me to contribute.”

Feeling the call to serve again also made Connell realize that one of his true passions was leadership.

“I originally joined the military to serve toward the end of the Gulf War much like most of my family did during times of conflict,” Connell said. “It wasn't until later, when I received my commission in the Air Force that I knew I wanted to lead and eventually command. My proudest professional moments came within the last year when I was selected for this command. I was then selected for promotion to the grade of lieutenant colonel.”

 

When not leading his unit, Connell’s passions are his family, football and cars.

 

“Family is very important to me, and I strive to make sure both my wife and son feel that they are part of the Air force family along with me,” Connell said. “I am also passionate about football season and my team, the New England Patriots! I have always enjoyed football. With most of my family being from and located in the New England states, the Patriots have always been my team.”

“I am also a car enthusiast,” Connell continued. “I would own at least 15 different cars if I had the money, but since I don't, I just rotate the car I drive about every two years. I have a great wife that supports me with both of my passions.”

Connell said that every Airman should set goals for themselves and always strive to complete them.

“The advice I would give is dream big, have incremental goals and work hard to achieve those goals,” Connell said. “As a young Airman you can achieve anything you want if you set attainable goals, work hard to achieve those goals, and then repeat that process until you reach your ultimate objective.”