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People Always Make The Difference

  • Published
  • By Col. John McDonald
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Commander
I'm more and more impressed with everything you do to make Pope the "Pride of the Force." Every day the members of Team Pope do something to make a difference, whether it is stepping up with a few hours notice to provide emergency support for our nation's citizens, working 20 hours in a day to make sure we are deploying correctly for exercises or coming together to give Pope another outstanding performance in Air Mobility Command's Match Up competition. 

On Aug. 30, Airmen from the 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, 43rd Medical Group and 3rd Aerial Port Squadron received the call from AMC to deploy to the Gulf Coast region for humanitarian support of Hurricane Gustav. In less than three hours, 32 Airmen received initial notice, arrived on base, organized all their gear and boarded a C-17 for Beaumont, Texas and Lakefront Airport, La. 

In their first 24 hours on the ground, the Airmen provided medical relief for more than 353 evacuees on 22 missions. What's even more impressive is that the Mobile Aeromedical Staging Facility (MASF) team from our medical group received their qualification training from 43rd AES personnel and it was apparent they passed their check ride with flying colors. The 43rd AES provided experience from years of working as a MASF in the deployed environment, and the 43rd MDG Airmen brought unmatched enthusiasm to the table, making this another outstanding performance by Team Pope. I trust they'll do the same in support of Hurricane Ike, which they deployed to provide support for Tuesday. 

But while those Airmen returned from their first deployment Sept. 4, more than 250 other Team Pope members were on their way out the door to Alpena, Mich. for the Operational Readiness Exercise, the precursor to next month's Operational Readiness Inspection. 

For three days squadron unit deployment managers and logistics Airmen from all around the base worked extended hours to get our Airmen to Alpena with all the correct information and gear for the inspectors. We did a great job at the ORE and I'm confident we'll continue our excellent run of inspection performances with the finale at the ORI. If there was some frustration with the process, understand that it was for a reason; our folks know what the IG will be looking for, and they are saving you from getting dinged by them when the inspection begins. 

But now, do me a favor and take advantage of everything we have going on this weekend.
Today is the Pope Special Activities Committee Golf Tournament. PSAC is one of the driving forces behind many activities our private organizations plan and execute. The PSAC is made up of local civic leaders and they are the biggest Team Pope supporters you'll ever meet. Even if you aren't playing, come out and support the event or join us for the barbeque at the Pope Club this evening after the golfing is over. 

Our Air Force Ball is tomorrow evening. The 43rd Mission Support Group has worked very hard to put this together, and I look forward to seeing many of you out tomorrow night looking sharp. 

Monday is a big day as the Combined Federal Campaign kicks off. All the Groups have CFC representatives and they'll be coming around to make contact with you and explain how you are the key to our success, and stress the critical responsibility we have to the organizations represented in the CFC. I can't stress enough how important it is for us to give back to the non-profit organizations that have made a difference in each of our lives. 

Lastly, thank you to all the folks who had a part in planning the 9/11 Ceremony yesterday, it was very well done. Remember, with everything that has happened since Sept. 11, 2001, some define this time as an age of terror, and I know there are great struggles ahead of us; however, we will define these times by our professionalism and patriotism.

This is not a time of terror, but a time of commitment and resolve. The commitment and resolve to advance human freedom - it is the foundation upon which America is built, it is the hope of every people, and it absolutely depends on us. Thanks for making Pope an amazing place to serve and execute our wide-reaching mission every day. BE SAFE, always keep your eye on your WINGMAN and never be THAT GUY!