Chat Room - Col. Michael Waggett

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By Lance Coleman

Col. Michael Waggett, 42, grew up in Rochester, N.Y., graduated with a mathematics degree from Syracuse University and completed ROTC training at the university. He followed that with pilot training in Wichita Falls, Texas. After various training schools, he went to England and flew F111 aircraft and then on to Clovis, New Mexico, at Cannon Air Force Base where he was a teacher. From there he went to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona to fly F-15Es and then joined the Colorado Air National Guard shortly after the Gulf War.

Col. Waggett was stationed at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama where he was an assistant professor teaching air power and training pilots in flying the TG-7 motor glider.

"The neat part about that job was many times you would turn over the controls of airplane to cadet who had never been in an airplane, and now they’re flying. To see their face light up, it was magical," he says.

Col Waggett came to Blount County as commandant of the academy of military science for the air guard and air reserve air command school for two years, the went to Washington, D.C., and worked for two years at the Pentagon and one year at the National War College.

On May 31, Waggett was named commander officer of the Training and Education Center at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base.

"I think most folks don’t understand what we do in training and education," he said, "We are the training and education center for 106,000 Air National Guard folks in 54 states and territories. As part of your career in Air National Guard, you will come to TEC many times in your career."

Here is Michael Waggett:

What was your most embarrassing moment?
"Getting caught telling a lie when I was 17 years old? made me never want to lie again."

Why did you pursue the career you chose?
"I wanted to serve my country? really is that simple! Also, the girls liked fighter pilots (especially after ‘Top Gun’ came out)."

What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
"I’m not sure. Hopefully words like loyal, trustworthy, straightforward."

When you were 5 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
"The King - Elvis. I love rock and roll, am a guitar player, and Elvis was one of the first musician I listened to when I was young."

What was your first paying job?
Waggett was a newspaper boy for the Democrat and Chronicle, a Gannett newspaper in Rochester, N.Y.

What’s the best thing about Blount County?
"It has the friendliest people in the entire world living in it. I’ve lived all over the world and never come across a group of folks who were willing to go the extra step to help you out. Folks are truly interested when they say, ‘How are you doing?’ Coming from D.C., this is night and day."

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
"I’d be a better golfer. My wife says she would change my hardheadedness."

What is your passion?
"Golf. It’s a sport that it is you against the golf course. It’s mental, physical and spiritual. It’s a sport I can play until I’m 85, like my grandfather did."

To what do you attribute your success?
"My Mom and Dad raising me to respect others, work hard, and be humble. I think the challenges of raising children today are much greater and that’s got a lot to do with the information age. Folks are getting information through television and internet in ways I never got. That makes parenting more difficult today."

What do you hate?
"Intolerance. A little empathy goes a long way. There’s always room for collaboration."

What’s your favorite quote?
"I learned it from my wife: ‘You haven’t failed until you blame someone else.’ Another good one is from Dad: ‘Never lick a steak knife.’"

What is your dream vacation?
"Taking my wife on a second honeymoon to Europe to play golf and see old buildings."

What is your all-time favorite movie?
" ‘Dr. Strangelove.’ I enjoy movies that make you think, and I think it’s a very clever movie that revolved around the idea of total war and how it makes fun of the military."

What is the best book you’ve ever read?
Waggett says the best book he’s ever read is "Catch 22" by Joseph Heller.

Would you travel in space?
"Absolutely. I’ve always enjoy taking calculated risks. When you fly fighters, you’re taking risk every time you take off in a fighter. I get a thrill from that and going into space would be a thrill."

If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?
"I’d go back to the week I met my wife so I could fall in love all over again."

If you couldn’t live in Blount County, where would you like to live?
"Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. It reminds me a lot of East Tennessee. It’s got a lake, great golf courses, and we’ve got a lot of family who live there."

Who has been the best United States president of the last 100 years and why?
"I’d have to say FDR. He pulled the country out of depression, took us through World War II and set the stage for us to become the world’s greatest nation."

What is your favorite sport and your favorite sport’s team?
Waggett enjoys football and he says University of Tennessee fans are unrivaled in their enthusiasm for their team. "I haven’t seen it anywhere in the country. (University of Alabama Crimson) Tide fans are nuts, but they don’t hold a candle to Volunteer fans."

If you were King for a Day, what edict would you immediately pass?
"Monday Night Football would start at 7 p.m., so I could stay up long enough to watch the end of the game."

What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
" ‘Treat everyone with the respect you expect yourself.’ Also: ‘Don’t ask the barber whether you need a haircut.’ "

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