VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE -- Often times when a photojournalist has the opportunity to capture the character of one of our leaders, the confines of a megapixel prove unworthy. After an interview with Master Sgt. LaFreniere, I highly doubt that even the freedom an article proposes will be able to suffice.
The day of our interview we decided that the calm breeze, blue skies, and sixty-five degree temperature was a luxury too nice to not enjoy. After finding a bench Master Sgt. Brett LaFreniere, 30th Space Wing Security Forces Squadron flight chief, matched the calm Vandenberg weather with his composition.
Very quickly, I realized that although calm now, LaFreniere has many times had to change his intensity. Most recently, as a graduate from the Marine Corps SNCO Academy. LaFreniere graduated as the “Distinguished Graduate” and was also highlighted as the “Gung-Ho Leader” among his 96 Marine peers.
Although I could write an article on that achievement alone, LaFreniere has graduated from Army Pathfinder school, Army Air Assault School, Army Special Reaction School, the Air Force’s close precision engagement course, and dynamics of international terrorism with Joint Special Operations University to name a few.
“To create these opportunities, I looked for them,” said LaFreniere. “So doing my research, going online, and reading articles of other Airmen who had gone to these schools. I reached out to those individuals, and asked them how they got those slots. Anytime I saw someone with different badges on their uniform, I would ask them about it, and it was my mentors who opened the opportunity for me to excel at it.”
The knowledge learned didn’t go to waste with LaFreniere. Several times he has used it to better prepare the men and women who also need aspects of his training.
“I think that if you learn something or experience something, the worst thing you can do is keep that information to yourself,” said LaFreniere. “So I was always looking for opportunities to get other people to test their limits and experience similar things to what I have.”
Before carrying six stripes, LaFreniere used the skills he had learned to better prepare others for the job.
“I did a good enough job when I went through the counter sniper school that the staff invited me back to be an instructor,” said LaFreniere. “Following a deployment in Iraq I ended up starting a phase two, to that counter sniper school out in Vegas. We were able to get a lot of people through that school to earn the certification to fire out of the sniper rifle.”
Having driven others to achieve their potential, not just in the course above, LaFreniere has held the standard he set for himself from the beginning.
“I want to do good for myself and my family, and for me that means pushing myself to the limits,” said LaFreniere. “I really do believe in the Core Values; especially, ‘Excellence in all We Do’. I think I have a good understanding of how to define excellence for myself. Everything I do, I try to push to that excellent marker that I have established. So for me, the driving force is that third core value.”
Now, fifteen years into his career, four deployments, and six stripes, LaFreniere’s focus is to be the best flight chief he can be and also to mentor Airmen.
“The most important thing for me is to be the best flight chief I can for security forces,” said LaFreniere. “I have to take care of my people and develop them into the best versions of themselves. Maybe they are trying to figure out this military world, so having the experience I have, I think I will be able to help them get in line and to push themselves to be better than they were the day before.”
In striving to be better every day, there are principles LaFreniere teaches his Airmen.
“Perfection isn’t practical, don’t try to be a perfect at everything,” said LaFreniere. “You are going to make mistakes, so understand that. However, excellence is the expectation. That is what you should strive for. Figure out what excellence means from your supervisor and for yourself and then strive to do that in all you are doing. If you figure that out, you are golden.”