Mississippi Power employee reflects on 30-plus years of military service

Mississippi Power employee reflects on 30-plus years of military service

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Mississippi Power Corporate Services manager Chris Wheeler says his transition from the United States Army to the company was a smooth one thanks to Principle Centered Leadership, a strategy he said goes hand-in-hand with military ideologies.

Wheeler, a Hattiesburg native who spent more than 30 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves, left the world of real estate and joined the company three years ago.

“I was still in the reserves when I came to Mississippi Power,” Wheeler said. “I met and worked with a lot of diverse people when I was in the service, and that was one factor that made me want to work here. The other is the similarities between Southern Company and the military. For me, it was an easy, comfortable fit.”

Wheeler enlisted in the Army in 1986, joined the ROTC in college and two years later became a commissioned officer in the Army artillery corps.

In 1991, Wheeler was activated for seven months in support of Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait.

“I was really the first one in my family to be in the military,” he said. “I could always relate to military people and work with them on whatever challenges we faced.”

Eleven years later, Wheeler was called back into service in Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom.

He said while his time in Kuwait could be challenging, it was nothing compared to the powerful atmosphere of post-9/11 Afghanistan.

“I spent 10 months over there,” Wheeler said. “I was a personnel officer assigned to track units throughout the theater of operations. I arrived a few months after 9/11. It was pretty intense.”

Wheeler says working with and getting to know military personnel from other countries is what he enjoyed most about his time in the service.

During his last four years in the military, Wheeler served as Mississippi’s Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer for the Army National Guard, a role which allowed him to work with state and federal agencies to put together plans in case the military was called into service to handle a domestic crisis.

“Although I was never deployed to what I would consider ‘exotic’ locations, I enjoyed the travel and the interaction with military and civilian personnel from other nations,” he said. “I was able to work with people from all over the world which was a great learning experience for me.”

Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO), produces safe, reliable and environmentally responsible energy for nearly 187,000 customers in 23 southeast Mississippi counties. Mississippi Power ranked first in the Southeast Electric Exchange’s 2016 Safety Performance Reports in all categories in which it participates – fossil/hydro generation, transmission and distribution, corporate and support, and total company – and is consistently recognized as an industry leader in reliability, customer service and safety. With nearly 105 megawatts of approved solar energy capacity, Mississippi Power is the largest partner in providing renewable energy in the state of Mississippi. Visit our websites at mississippipower.com and mississippipowernews.com, like us on Facebook, and follow us on TwitterLinkedInGoogle+ and YouTube.