Two thirds of the way through his 0600 to 1800 work day, Lieutenant Colonel David Weide was seated behind the shining dark wood of his desk, a foot-and-a-half high pile of paperwork in front of him, waiting to be addressed. Weide is the Commander of Montana State University Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) Detachment 450, and department chair and professor of aerospace studies. He is one semester into his assignment at MSU, a post that will last two or three years, and one his military career has made him ideally suited for.
In this position, Weide is responsible for the six active duty members of the Air Force ROTC cadre, as well as the commissioning of around 75 graduating student cadets. Additionally, he currently instructs two courses: MAS 411 National Security Affairs and MAS 260 Air Force Weapons Systems.
His office in Hamilton Hall is decorated with formal photographs, awards and keepsakes from his long career, including a group picture of his Basic Training graduation from 1991 and three boonie hats from his tours in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and, most recently, a 14 month tour in Afghanistan.
Throughout his 24 years with the Air Force, Weide has been assigned ten different job placements at a multitude of bases. Counting his assignments off on his fingers, he explained “I’ve served in a diverse number of positions … including four different major commands,” making him a useful mentor to the Cadets in the program. “These cadets could be assigned to any position at any base … I’ve had exposure to all of them in some way.”
Weide began his career as an enlisted Airman First Class in 1991. Initially inspired by an air show in 1985, Weide says he was “looking for something exciting to do with my life out of high school.”
Throughout his first assignment from 1991 to 1993, Weide developed a deep respect for the leadership skills of his superiors. His own leadership ethic was shaped by “my exposure to my officers…[their] ethics, perseverance and discipline. They were always on their game,” he said. “First and foremost, lead by example … set the example … You never have to tell an officer to shine their boots.”
He then attended Angelo State University while stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas. He was a distinguished graduate of the ROTC program, and attributes much of his desire to hold his current position to his positive experiences as a cadet.
Since his commission in 1998, Weide climbed the ranks from Second Lieutenant to Lieutenant Colonel, a promotion he received shortly after his arrival to MSU. For the past decade, Weide has worked towards his current assignment, and made it through the competitive selection process for Commander.
“In my entire career this the is the first time I’ve been assigned both the job and location I wanted,” he said.
However, the job, like any other, has its faults. “Administration was a surprise for me. I was not expecting the paperwork. I’ve got paperwork for my paperwork,” said Weide, gesturing to the stack of files on his desk. The calendar on his computer screen is crammed with multicolored reminders of his various obligations. “I wish I could say there was such a thing as an average day,” he laughed.
Weide’s reward, however, is worth it. “Watching the development of our young citizens, watching the growth of the cadets, is the most rewarding part of the job,” he said.