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Impact Beyond the Base

  • Published
  • By Col. John McDonald
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Commander
Whenever I meet someone who is new to our community or hasn't interacted with Team Pope in the past, I stress how much everyone here appreciates the support we receive from Fayetteville and its surrounding communities. 

We hear about our Airmen helping other Airmen, be it through a financial outlet like the Air Force Assistance Fund, or a humanitarian outlet like donating to the Airman's Attic. We also hear about them volunteering at different events such as the Airman's Appreciation Dinner, which is coming up on October 7. 

And we hear about how our Airmen are getting out in the community, taking part in things like Habitat for Humanity, mentoring with the Drug Education for Youth program or feeding those less fortunate through Meals on Wheels. 

But I rarely get the chance to tell you about what the community is doing for Team Pope. Just a few weeks ago, the Pope Special Activities Committee held their annual golf tournament, an extremely successful event that raised more than $6,000 for programs and events that you benefit from and take part in. 

Today, at Chicora Country Club in Erwin, NC, several of our Honorary Commanders will be hosting a 72-person golf tournament for Airmen from more than 15 squadrons. A free day of golf and two meals is not a cheap endeavor, but the local civic leaders who see our mission at work lead an event like this to show their appreciation for what we represent and the sacrifices you and your families make day after day. 

Our community outreach is more than just leisure activities, and the Orbit Comet exercise that runs Monday through Oct. 10 is proof positive of that. The exercise tests law enforcement and emergency response agencies from Pope in conjunction with local and state level response agencies, plus Federal Agencies and Fort Bragg to ensure we remain at peak readiness for any disaster on or off base. The exercise reinforces the strong working relationships we enjoy with our local area emergency services providers; our Fire Department responds to off-base calls and our Security Forces work hand-in-hand with Fort Bragg's Provost Marshal every day - which makes events like this a simple refresher course rather than a large-scale event. 

Talking about an event, remember to attend our first "Oct-SOBER-Fest" today and participate in the other events going on during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I stressed during last week's Commander's Calls the importance of staying vigilant in all we do, and while we'd love to think nothing bad could ever happen to us, you can never do too much to stay safe. 

We're now almost three weeks into the Combined Federal Campaign season, and the numbers we have reached are staggering. We have reached nearly 75 percent of our goal as of Monday with many squadrons already passing or even doubling their goal! I'll say it again: Every donation counts and it's absolutely the right thing to do! If you can name a worthy cause - whether it helps military, civilian, the elderly, children, animals, the environment, etc. - I guarantee you CFC has an outlet for you to contribute to that cause. If you have questions, contact your squadron leads, or Capt. Dana Longo or Master Sgt. Patrick Garcia, our Wing CFC leads, and they'll point you in the right direction. 
Given the success we have had to date, we could possibly double our target goal if folks continue to participate and donate at the rate we've seen in the first three weeks.
I am giving special recognition to the folks of the 43rd Comptroller Squadron and 43rd Contracting Squadron for working almost around the clock over the closeout of the fiscal year. If you didn't know it, Oct. 1 is the "New Year" for our financial folks, and they worked late into the night Sept. 30 to close out the FY08 books. We were able to acquire many mission-essential items at the last minute thanks to their performance. 

Like we discussed at Commander's Call last week, stay focused and keep up the great work. 

We're sprinting toward the finish line for the Operational Readiness Inspection, and I know many of you are working long hours to put our best foot forward for the Inspector General team. We'll be busy all month with our last ORE Oct. 14 through 16, and Maj. Gen. Scott's visit to include the headquarters building and parade field dedication scheduled for Oct. 16 through 17, so take care of yourself. We do have long weekends coming up with Columbus Day Oct. 13 and our Wing DUI Down Day Oct. 20, so get out and enjoy the cooler weather that comes with the fall season. But remember to BE SAFE, keep an eye on your WINGMAN and never be THAT GUY!