Recent Edwards chief writes a ‘Boom!’ of a book
Dennis Anderson Easy Company Dennis Anderson is a licensed clinical social worker at High Desert Medical Group. An Army paratrooper veteran who covered the Iraq War for the Antelope Valley Press, he serves as Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s appointee on the
Brig. Gen. E. John Teichert — call sign “Dragon” — had to be the first active duty general to visit the hundred or so veterans sipping java at the weekly Coffee4Vets veterans gathering.
He set a precedent as operational commander of Edwards Air Force Base, “The Flight Test Center of the Universe.” It was pretty unheard of to visit semi-regularly with veterans in an informal setting.
Teichert worked the room at Crazy Otto’s diner, and even poured the coffee. He also told “dad jokes.” The jokes were corny enough, but they endeared him to the moms and dads at the veterans table.
The general invited veterans out to the “Right Stuff” base where Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier and delivered keynote speeches at the Antelope Valley Vietnam Memorial and the Veterans Military Ball.
In addition to being a test pilot who commanded the F-22 task force, he has added the title of author to the list of achievements that marked his career. It was one of the first things he managed in his recent retirement from the Air Force.
For anyone familiar with the sonic thunder that announces the sound barrier above Aerospace Valley, the book’s title, “Boom!” will resonate. It has a subtitle “Leadership that Breaks Barriers, Challenges Convention, and Ignites Innovation.”
Spending quality time with veterans, and practicing a leadership style that honors the past while planning for the future is a characteristic of Teichert’s “servant leadership” style that is described in the book.
“Leadership, ‘Dragon’ style” is not about being easygoing, or a mush of kindness. Teichert’s leadership book counsels on the qualities of listening, stopping to reflect and consider, then acting decisively to improve whichever organization it might be, military, school, church, even Congress.
Teichert led at Edwards from 2018 until his command was cut short in 2020 by a mission that took him to Baghdad as military attache when the US Embassy was under constant attack by Iranian-backed militias firing rockets and mortars.
A possible embassy closure loomed. Small improvements, including simply placed barbed wire and a sophisticated anti-aircraft cannon, improved embassy security enough that the diplomatic mission survived. It all came down to team work, Teichert said.
The book, focusing on how his team unleashed a fresh culture of innovation at the “Aerospace Test Center of the Universe,” is replete with anecdotes and memorable events. One recounts how Chuck Yeager was nearly cut from graduation from the Test Pilots School at Edwards over jealousy of his achievement in breaking the sound barrier in 1947 before securing his diploma.
The waiver written by Air Force Gen. Albert Boyd ordering Yeager’s graduation is an example cited in “Boom!” about making exceptions, particularly for exceptional achievement.
There is also a chapter on “dad jokes” and the role humor can play in cementing relations with peers and subordinates.
Call signs like the nickname “Dragon” are bestowed by pilots more senior early in an officer’s flying career. The pilot rarely shares why he got the call sign because it can be personal and humorously deprecating, but however it happened, Teichert concedes, “‘Dragon’ is a pretty good one.”
For people who love the Aerospace Valley as our Antelope Valley is known in the flight and defense worlds, Teichert’s book is filled with stories about why the desert where the “Right Stuff” ethos was born really is the center of the universe.
Alberta Newspaper Group