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NEWS | June 24, 2022

From LeMay to Lo Bianco, the Legacy of the 305th AMW's CAN DO Spirit

By Senior Airman Matt Porter 87th Air Base Wing

The 305th Air Mobility Wing has a rich heritage dating back to the 305th Bombardment Group, where then U.S. Air Force Colonel Curtis LeMay serving as their first group commander, embodied the CAN DO spirit in the nation’s war against Nazi Germany.

79 years later, U.S. Air Force Colonel Michele Lo Bianco, 305th Operations Group commander, carries on with the same CAN DO ethos. Like LeMay, Lo Bianco led 305th Airmen through unprecedented challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, Operation Allies Refuge and Operation Allies Welcome.

“Taking command is always a privilege, and this command came with its own set of unique challenges,” said Lo Bianco. “Our storied heritage beginning with the 305th Bomber Group, through the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the most recent efforts in Afghanistan, it shows that the CAN DO Wing is always a part of our national defense’s history.”

Initially Lo Bianco joined the U.S. Air Force as a weather officer and was denied the opportunity to become a pilot due to a medical disqualification. However, flying still called to her.

“22 years ago I did not have a recourse to my medical disqualification and I was two-tenths of an inch too short to fly as a pilot, but I already had the CAN DO spirit and that led me where I am today” said Lo Bianco. “While I didn’t take the traditional career path to piloting, those years were formative and each person and every experience along the way has prepared me for my next step as Wing Commander.”

An outspoken proponent of servant leadership, Lo Bianco saw the COVID-19 pandemic and the logistical needs of OAR/OAW as an opportunity to be there for Airmen when they needed it most.

“Leading Airmen during an unprecedented time is well… Unprecedented,” said Lo Bianco. While no one could have foreseen the global impacts of COVID-19, the women and men of the 305th OG wasted no time adjusting and responding in real-time to threats, changes in policy, and the needs of Airmen as the pandemic lingered on.”

At the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 305th OG laid the groundwork for telecom staff meetings, and later on hosted virtual mentoring sessions and social hangouts for Airmen to connect during isolation.

“My staff and I took great care to lead Airmen in a positive way through whatever avenue we could at the time, because at the 305th OG we raise leaders,” said Lo Bianco. “On day one as Group Commander it was my first priority to develop multi-capable Airmen. That means Airmen who are physically, spiritually and mentally ready to go at a moment’s notice and accomplish the mission to the best of their ability, whenever and wherever.”

Despite following in the storied footsteps of 305th leadership like LeMay, Lo Bianco sees herself and her mission differently from that of war heroes of the past.

“How would LeMay have handled a global pandemic or the largest noncombatant evacuation in U.S. history?” said Lo Bianco. “I only knew how to handle those situations in my own way. Each generation faces challenges in ways that past and future generations would handle very differently due to technology, culture, and of course timing. I have never considered myself a trailblazer, this is just who I am, and I'm charged with a mission to help people wherever I can.”

According to U.S. historian Barrett Tillman, “Some fliers still griped at post-mission practices and extra work at bombing, navigation and gunnery, but nobody could argue with the results. Curtis LeMay was putting more bombs on target with fewer losses than any other group.”

“This is the legacy of LeMay and the CAN DO motto,” said Stuart Lockhart, 305th AMW historian. “Colonel Lo Bianco may not have been asked to bomb the enemy or lead Airmen to war, but she was always on target nonetheless. She and the 305th OG reflects and embodies the CAN DO spirit and LeMay’s standard of excellence today.”

As Lo Bianco prepares to leave the 305th AMW to command the 15th Wing, she marvels at what her Airmen accomplished during her tenure as their commander despite unparalleled difficulties.

“I am fortunate to be a small part of the 305th story and the history made here over the last few years,” said Lo Bianco. “To the women and men of the 305th Operations Group, I thank you for sharing part of your story with me. It will always be an honor to have served you.”