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Our Heritage Guides Us

  • Published
  • By Col. John McDonald
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Commander
The Air Force celebrated its 61st birthday Sept. 17, and while you obviously didn't hear as much about it this year as you did during last year's 60th birthday celebration, there are events going on everyday to remind us of the history that has made us the world's greatest air and space force. 

We've already begun practicing for the Oct. 17 dedication of our wing headquarters building and parade field to Lt. Col. Jay Zeamer and 2nd Lt. Joseph Sarnoski, respectively. You may have already seen Colonel Zeamer's name on the wing building, and as we speak there are signs being built to mark the parade field in Lieutenant Sarnoski's name. 

Those of you who are involved in the parade, whether it is planning or marching, get to showcase our wing's heritage to a large audience on Oct. 17, including Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott, 18th Air Force Commander, and members of both the Zeamer and Sarnoski families. I have no doubt this will be another first-class event from Team Pope -- a day when we create our own history. 

We're also creating history every week, it seems, by putting together top-notch performances when challenged by a visiting inspection team. 

Last week, our Airmen from the 43rd Operation Support, Civil Engineer and Communications Squadrons shined during the Air Traffic System Evaluation Program inspection. Our Team received a compliance rating of 97.3 percent with only 22 deficiencies noted after evaluating 822 items. The Evaluation Team recognized six Superior Performers: Tech. Sgt. Holly Todd, Tech. Sgt. Angela Yetto-Newton, Staff Sgt. Lonnie Theriault, Staff Sgt. James Thompson, Senior Airman Michelle Hanna and Mr. Harry Miller. Additionally, and most importantly in my mind, the inspectors lauded the outstanding teamwork amongst the squadrons involved and across the base, and they specifically recognized the tremendously positive attitudes and professionalism of our Airmen. 

So, we've hit homeruns in our LSEP, EOHCAMP, HSI and the ATSEP -- that just leaves the Operational Readiness Inspection. I am confident of the same outstanding results and I also understand how much preparation we've put into the ORI and how successful we were at the ORE earlier this month; that said, we are still finishing up the execution of a phase one practice today and we'll practice again Oct. 14 and 15 to ensure our edges are sharpened and our finish is polished, guaranteeing we come away with an "Outstanding" rating at the end of next month. 

Be sure to listen to your functional area leaders who know what the inspectors are looking for. We've kept a positive attitude since day one, so don't let it slip away because you failed to follow a simple ground rule, such as entering the play area when you are off shift and not having the proper gear to participate in the scenarios. (Easy technique, when you're off shift, stay out of the play area.) 

The play rules do not discriminate between folks based upon rank or position, so if you see somebody not following the rules, correct them. It's part of being a good Wingman, and it may be a case of somebody not being aware of the situation. If you don't correct that mistake and the inspector is watching, it could simply compound the infraction.
We are all solid in our areas of expertise and I know you'll show that off during the inspection...there's no reason to let little mistakes keep us from receiving the rating our dedication and hard work deserves. 

In case you haven't heard, our Airmen Appreciation Dinner is set for Oct. 15 at the Pope Club. Planning is coming together very well and I hope all folks from airman basic to senior airman will plan to attend. The dinner will be free for the Airmen and their families and will be served by the base leadership. The event is one night a year when we show our appreciation for the job done by our youngest Airmen day after day. 

Special thanks to Capts. Erin O'Toole and Mary McGriff for bringing in the Sex Signals play last week as part of the kickoff to Domestic Violence Awareness Month; look for other events to increase your awareness and involvement. Additionally, be on the look-out for the upcoming "OctSober Fest," I promise it will be both enlightening and fun. 

Remember our CFC is in full swing and in order to maximize the power of the team, I count on your participation! Someone asked me the other day, who wouldn't give $15 a month to help prevent their mother, sister or wife from being stricken with breast cancer? The answer was easy; we all would. Please take the time and be a Difference Maker!
Finally, as we continue to Fall Back on Safety, remember to BE SAFE, keep an eye on your WINGMAN and never be THAT GUY!