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Master Sgt. Eric Crownhart
August 13, 2010
Written By: Russell Jensen

Author Seth Godin, in his newest book Linchpin, uses a small, inexpensive piece of hardware as a way of describing key contributors who make themselves essential to the operation of their business. A linchpin is a small, cheap metal clip that literally keeps the wheel from falling off the wagon, and Godin aptly uses that to describe those individuals whom others rely on to make things happen.

I reference this because I’d like to introduce you to a linchpin, Master Sgt. Eric Crownhart. After 23 years Eric is retiring from the Air Force, and I was privileged to attend his retirement ceremony recently. Although I’ve known him his entire life, it was eye opening for me to come to know him differently through the comments of his peers and superiors.
Eric enlisted in the Air Force after college. Always a behind the scenes kind of guy, he spent much of his career ensuring the maintenance and flight readiness of various air units around the world. He and his teams enabled successful missions in many of the places you read about in the paper. The colonel who presided over the retirement ceremony walked us all through a brief summary of Eric’s performance evaluations over the years to help us appreciate his contributions. Now think about that for minute. How excited would you be to have someone publicly review excerpts from your reviews throughout your career? The colonel highlighted three consistent themes that appeared every time Eric took on a new assignment.
First, at every new stop he shook the unit up. Within 12 months key performance metrics improved noticeably. Second, he brought in best practices and new processes. So those key performance metrics would be sustainable after he left. And third, he brought innovation and initiative. Sgt. Crownhart would look at something that wasn’t working as smoothly as it could have and, rather than gripe or ignore it, took on the task of changing it.
He brought these strengths with him to his last assignment, which was a major career change. He served in the Emergency Actions Cell of the United States Transportation Command.  US TRANSCOM is a joint command which moves people and operational assets of all US Military branches to wherever they need to go. In the Emergency Action Cell, Eric and his team responded to military “contingencies” as well as emergency relief efforts. His unit put the people and equipment in place to free a ship captain taken hostage off the coast of Somalia, responded to the major natural disasters that make headlines, and support military and executive branch operations daily. And sure enough, even though Eric and his team responded to almost 500 contingencies in his time there, he still managed to help create a new database to streamline worldwide emergency contact procedures.
So to Sgt. Crownhart and all the linchpins out there, thank you for making things happen.

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