Chief Reyes: Guiding the force

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Anabel Del Valle
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Every Airman is encouraged to find a mentor to guide them through the unique demands that come with military service as they face challenges throughout their career.

For many Airmen around Tyndall, Chief Master Sgt. Luis Reyes, 325th Mission Support Group superintendent, is known as a friendly face with tons of energy and no shortage of constructive criticism to offer any Airmen he may come across.

Reyes joined the Air Force in September 1997 as a communications computer systems operator after he grew bored of school and wanted a new adventure. In addition to his current work duties as MSG superintendent, he takes any chance he gets to interact with Airmen and offer advice and motivation.

“The most important thing you can do to help guide junior enlisted Airmen is to be available and present,” explained Reyes. “The moment an Airman comes up to you is crucial. If an Airman stops me and asks [to talk], that becomes my focus. Who knows what’s on their mind? The decision to stop and take the time to talk to them could be life-altering.”

While Reyes does his best to ensure Airmen are heard during one-on-one conversations, he also takes great pride in bringing together Airmen from different units and Air Force specialties to voluntarily take on a challenge. He hosts base resiliency rucks ranging from 3 to 20 miles long.  

“Not only are they a good source of exercise, but they give us a chance to connect with people. [Chief Reyes has created] a great avenue to meet a new wingman,” added Staff Sgt. Cheyenne Lewis, 325th Public Affairs non-commissioned officer in charge of command information. “Chief Reyes mentors me whether he knows it or not, but Chief mentors everyone he meets. He naturally wants to help people.”

Reyes says that despite his passion for the Airmen, mentoring does have challenges.

“Not only does it require a significant investment of time, energy and emotional labor but also a willingness to put aside other responsibilities to focus on mentoring,” said Reyes. “It can be challenging to provide honest and meaningful feedback, especially when it is critical or negative. They say, ‘The truth will set you free,’ which is true, but it hurts!”

Reyes holds the belief that building resilient, flexible Airmen should remain a top priority for leaders, as mentors play a vital role in the professional and personal development of Air Force personnel.

“Being able to see the Airmen under my leadership grow and develop can be particularly rewarding, as it illustrates the effectiveness of my mentoring and guidance,” concluded Reyes. “Being able to positively influence others' lives is a fulfilling and satisfying experience.”