JACKSONVILLE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Fla. --
The 125th Mission Support Group had an Assumption of Command at the 125th Fighter Wing, July 13, 2019.
U.S. Air Force Col. Jason A. Lay started his career as a guardsman with the Oregon Air National Guard in 1999, where he presided over both the Engineering and Operations Flights of the 142d Civil Engineer Squadron. In time, he took command of the 142 CES as a whole.
According to some, good leaders hone their skills through shear life experiences.
“Experience is what you make of it,” said Lay. “I’m a better leader today because of both my past successes and failures. I try to learn every day and apply lessons learned whenever I can.”
No stranger to mission readiness, Lay led his squadron in 2014 to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, where he served as commander of the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron.
Several areas of responsibility have served as a temporary home for Lay. He has supported Operations Southern Watch, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom, throughout parts of Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. He also spent time in Hungary and Bosnia-Herzegovina while assigned to the Defense Contract Management Command earlier in his career.
Lay’s newest mission within the Florida Air National Guard required a cross-country move, temporarily leaving his family behind. He misses them every day, but his wife expects to relocate in a few months to join him here. Family is part of what motivates Lay to do a good job.
“I was inspired as a child for an optimistic future that is better than yesterday or today,” said Lay. “My faith and family help me develop that vision and put it into practice.”
According to Lay, one Bible verse in particular speaks to him.
I Corinthians 15:58 reads, “Therefore be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
For Lay, observing other leaders in action also serves as a source of inspiration.
“I have always been inspired by those leaders who can connect with their people, and foster a spirit and energy of excitement and desire to do a great job as opposed to leaders who incite fear of getting in trouble,” said Lay.
In front of a packed house, with several distinguished guests and family, the flag was exchanged.
“It was obvious we hit the jackpot with Col. Lay,” said U.S Air Force Col. Jerry P. Reedy, commander, 125th Fighter Wing. “He’s a combat tested veteran, and he understands the challenges you face. I know he’s going to do a good job, and take the stress level down a notch.”
After taking the guidon flag from Reedy, Lay then addressed the group as their official commander.
“We are 831 [people] strong, with 51 different AFSCs (Air Force Specialty Codes). Together you comprise an unstoppable force."