78th ABW Execs Helping Lead the Way at Robins

Kisha Foster Johnson

Tuesday, March 14th, 2023

Day in and day out, the 78th Air Base Wing executive officers/assistants at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, work as behind-the-scenes movers and shakers.

The trio includes Capt. Beverly Lay, Capt. Russell Burt and Tech. Sgt. Luz Benedict. Their sole mission is to serve in a supportive role to leadership and that comes in many forms.

“I schedule and coordinate meetings, ensure the completion of taskers due to the wing, Air Force Sustainment Center and Air Force Materiel Command,” said Capt. Beverly Lay, executive officer for Col. Lindsay Droz, 78th ABW commander. “Schedules can get hectic. The executive team works together to ensure leadership has time carved out to get things done. We make sure they have the right information, are at the right place on time, and they are prepared for the day.”

The Hawaii native has been stationed at Robins for nearly four years. Her previous duties included working on C-17 landing gear/mechanical equipment and as a U-2 Avionics Integrated Product team lead.

“I knew being an executive officer would be challenging, and I wanted to gain invaluable experience working at the wing,” said Lay. “There is a lot of correspondence and requests that come to the front office. This is where big decisions are made, some that can have life-changing impacts to military members and their families. Additionally, it gives me the opportunity to develop leadership qualities.”

Lay has a front row seat, watching as Col. Droz commands more than 2,700 personnel assigned to three groups, a communications directorate, an operations support squadron, a comptroller squadron and 17 wing staff agencies.

Droz is also directly responsible for logistics, medical, civil engineer, security and mission support functions, in addition to managing facilities and equipment valued at $8.1 billion and executing an operating budget of $170.8 million for the installation.

“Capt. Lay is one of the best. She gives me bandwidth to do the things that I need to do as wing commander by ensuring that I stay focused and ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks,” said Droz.

Droz described Lay as a conduit between organizations within the 78th ABW and across the installation, building relationships to keep the base running smoothly. 

“Being an exec is like being part event coordinator, part organizer/time manager, part strategist, part executive communicator, part sounding board, and a million other things,” she said. “Commanders often don't even know half of what their execs are doing to keep them on track. She is just that good.

“Lay strives to ensure that engagements and communications further my strategic vision of connectedness, accountability, and developing mission-ready Airmen. She is an amazing Airman, and I'm honored to be part of her journey in the Air Force,” Droz continued.

Capt. Russell Burt, executive officer for Col. Sergio Rios, 78th ABW vice commander, pursued this position to see how the “front office machine” operates.

“What amazes me is seeing all aspects of the base come together to support one mission as one team,” Burt said. “I didn’t realize how much the support element of the Air Force plays a factor into daily operations. I have a better understanding of how the greater team works to accomplish the bigger picture of the mission.”

Burt, originally from Franklin, Tennessee, has worked at Robins for three years and held previous duties, such as Air Weapons Officer instructor, deputy chief of exercises, training officer and scheduling officer.