A Pilgrim in Unholy Places


In military parlance, "Mustang" refers to an officer who came up through the ranks. Tom Phillips is a Mustang officer who enlisted in the Air Force as a slick sleeve recruit, almost got kicked out on his third day at Boot Camp, and retired nearly four decades later after leading some of the first American troops into Sarajevo.

During a career that encompassed the Cold War, the Cuban Crisis, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, he led an isolated detachment through a terrorist raid, served as Director of the Air Force Military Personnel Readiness Center during Operation Desert Storm, organized one of the largest searches in the nation's history, commanded one of the most unique units in the Air Force, and led troops into Bosnia. Along the way, as a veteran "CO," he dealt with new issues that were vital to the military such as women in combat and "don't ask, don't tell."

Interspersed with hilarious tales from an old-time sergeant, Phillips takes his audience on an exciting and valuable journey. His story contains a riveting mixture of emotions: the humor of having major belt buckle difficulties in front of a four star general; the tragedy of notifying parents of their son's death in combat; the anguish of firing a subordinate commander; the peril of leading units in harm's way; the drama of searching for the kidnapped eleven year old daughter of a co-worker; and much more. He talks about ignoring an important regulation, choosing the wrong person for a key job, and about lessons learned over a thirty-six year career. Phillips' concern for his profession and affection for the people in it shine through every page. His insights on leadership, and the successes and failures of leaders and policies-viewed from the unique vantage point of having come from the lowest rung of an organization to positions of senior leadership-should be required reading for leaders and students of leadership in the military and civilian sector.


Thomas D. Phillips


(2004), 2006, 5½x8½, paper, 256 pp.

ISBN: 9780788432002