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Team Pope Represents

  • Published
  • By Col. John McDonald
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Commander
After a week away for Spring Break with my family, I can honestly tell you, it's great to be back! Absolutely I enjoyed my time with my family, but the energy I get from the daily interactions with you all is unmatched! For example, when I had the opportunity to present Airman 1st Class Alexandra Bahner from the Carolina Inn with her Popetastic T-shirt the other day, her genuine excitement confirmed to me again, it is the people who make Pope Outstanding! And as spring has sprung, things seem to be going very well. The weather is warming up, outdoor activities are increasing and our support of the mission is as active as ever. 

Yesterday, a group of approximately 25 folks made up primarily of our Honorary Commanders and members of the Pope Special Activities Committee, along with some elected officials and businessmen from our surrounding communities and I spent the day at Little Rock AFB, Ark., and as you read this, we are at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. Why are we visiting these two particular bases? Well there is a tie. Little Rock and Scott, like Pope, are home to Warriors executing Air Mobility missions; the missions many of our civic partners clearly associate with the Air Force, since it is what they are exposed to due to their relationships with us. This community relations trip is our opportunity to show our neighbors how their support here at home makes a significant contribution to the greater overall mission of Air Mobility Command and the Air Force. It's important to expose our civic supporters to the Air Force story, and especially the Mobility Air Forces capabilities. Given that emphasis, it is important we all understand the tremendous individual impact we have influencing our civilian audiences. What I mean is, you have a direct impact on how the people we serve in the community form their opinions about the Air Force and the entire Department of Defense. Simply, you are a spokesperson, an ambassador and model always on display on the Air Force's behalf. Even more simple -- You Represent! 

It's rare for folks to have the access our Honorary Commanders and Pope Special Activities Committee members do. They do an amazing job of telling our story and spreading the word about Team Pope and our accomplishments, but there are still many out there they can't reach. Believe it or not, those people are forming their opinions based on your actions in the community, whether it is a one-time chance encounter at the mall or the constant day-to-day interaction common to living in an apartment complex or a housing development. 

Remember, you are a representative of Pope and the Air Force at all times. This is just a reminder, because honestly, the great majority of the time I hear nothing but great things from the community about the work you do here and your involvement as citizens and volunteers throughout our surrounding townships. Be proud of what you do and what you represent! Any time you have the opportunity to talk to people about your job or what you do to serve our great nation, do so. People are supportive of you because they recognize your efforts to protect their freedoms, so do everything you can to get involved. 

This weekend offers some great opportunities. Tomorrow morning I will be nearby in the town of Erwin for their Earth Day Celebration. The fun will start at 11 a.m. at the Cape Fear River Park and last all afternoon. 

Later Saturday evening, the Fayetteville Homebuilders Association is teaming up with the Fayetteville Guard to present Operation Welcome Home VI at the Crown Coliseum. We have distributed many tickets to this event, and Chief Ackerman may have more, but I expect all of you with a ticket to be out in full force thanking these organizations and enjoying a great game! And don't forget the Fayetteville Symphony will be performing a concert on Pope May 9 at 4 p.m. on the lawn across from the Wing Headquarters building in recognition of YOU! It will be a blast, so please mark your calendar to attend (it's free!!!) 

Lastly, as a result of your dedication and commitment to Airmen taking care of Airmen, this year's Air Force Assistance Fund campaign was another huge success! Despite a lower manning level than the previous two years, we raised more than $78,000, including the centerpiece event, the 24-Hour Endurance Relay, which raised more than $13,000! Amazing! These results are another positive sign of the involvement levels here. Thanks for all you continue to do. Not only for your sacrifices and commitment, but for the sacrifices and commitment of your families; and always remember as Wingmen, Leaders and Warriors, we may not be great all the time, but we can always do our best and always do what's right ... and it's always best and right to know how much your Individual Actions Matter. Especially when coupled with the I AM pledge: I AM responsible, I AM accountable, and I AM going to make a positive difference! You are Popetastic! Ensure you are an Impact Airman with WoW throughout the coming week!