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NEWS | June 28, 2024

JB Charleston commander reflects on his leadership journey and legacy

By 1st Lt. Taylor Ferry , 628th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

As Col. Michael Freeman, 628th Air Base Wing and Joint Base Charleston commander, prepares to retire from a distinguished 26-year career in the United States Air Force, he reflects on his leadership journey with gratitude and excitement for what lies ahead. Throughout his tenure, Freeman's leadership philosophy has been rooted in simplicity, servant leadership, and a deep commitment to his people.

Freeman's first command role as a flight commander was a pivotal moment in his leadership journey. He learned invaluable lessons about leadership, including the importance of collaboration and continuous learning. "You don't have to know the answer on the spot," he said. "You can phone a friend." This approach laid the foundation for his leadership style, which emphasizes teamwork and a growth mindset.

A positive attitude and perspective are integral to Freeman's leadership. Inspired by a deputy he worked with, he learned the power of a positive outlook in transforming perceptions and outcomes. "Nothing in the circumstances has to change, but the way everybody's feeling about it can completely change from a positive attitude," he said. His positive attitude has inspired his team and created a culture of optimism and resilience.

Community engagement has been a key focus of Freeman's tenure at Joint Base Charleston, where he has prioritized building strong relationships with the local community and ensuring that engagement extends to Airmen at all levels. He has implemented initiatives such as “Bring Your Family to Work Day” and collaborations with the local chamber of commerce, with the goal of fostering a deeper connection between the base and its surrounding area.

His proudest accomplishments are those where he directly impacted the lives of Airmen. From helping military families through key spouse programs to guiding a young Airman out of addiction and into a stable job, these victories stand out. "The empowerment of Airmen writ large is something that I've been really proud of," he said. Freeman's focus on the well-being and development of his team has created a culture of support and growth.

As he steps into the next chapter, Freeman looks forward to achieving a better work-life balance and exploring new opportunities with his family. He remains optimistic and open to wherever the future may lead. "I'm excited to figure it out and do it with my wife and kids who are awesome," he said.

Freeman's tenure at Joint Base Charleston is marked by his unwavering commitment to his Airmen, community, and mission. His leadership has not only strengthened the base, but also inspired a culture of empowerment, integrity, and positivity. As he bids farewell, he leaves behind a legacy of service, dedication, and impactful leadership that will continue to resonate within the Air Force community.