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Goodbye Team Pope

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Michael Grimm
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Command Chief
It is hard to believe that time goes by so fast, but when you are doing what you love and working with the best Airmen in the world, time tends to get away from you. 

Over the last few months several folks have asked if I am excited to leave Pope. When I left here in 1987, I was more than ready to move on to new challenges that the Air Force had in store for my wife Diane and I. However, leaving this time is a bit different. Over the past four years, we have come to think of Pope and North Carolina as home. My daughters, Bethanyanne and Denyelle, after years of believing that as a military brat you are not really from anywhere, started telling people they are from North Carolina. That statement does not mean I am not looking forward to the challenges of New Jersey, but let's just say it's different transferring duty stations this time. 

It is customary during a goodbye letter to thank people you have worked for and with, and I would be remiss by not doing the same, so please bear with me. Thank you to Brig. Gen. Darren McDew and Chief Master Sgt. Herbert Hansen who gave me my first opportunity to fill in as Command Chief. I would also like to thank Col. Timothy Zadalis who hired me as his Command Chief and Col. John McDonald who continued to support me as his Command Chief. Thank you to the best group of operationally focused chiefs in the Air Force who have supported me by always keeping the focus on the mission and the Airmen. Thank you to a group of senior noncommissioned officers who truly live by the motto that people are our mission, who would move the earth to support the Airmen and the families of Pope -- the first sergeants. This may sound like a bit of a cliché, but the senior NCOs who have stepped up to fill the role of first sergeant have truly answered a call to serve. The difference they make in the lives of our Airmen and their families is amazing. I need to thank the Airmen of Pope; thank you for four years that I truly cannot believe have flown by so fast. 

This part of the letter is where I get to say what being at Pope has meant to me, and I have struggled to put into words how I felt until a few days ago when I saw it there in front of me: 

We are American Airmen
We are Warriors
We have answered our nation's call

Everyday new Airmen arrive at Pope ready to serve their country; they have answered their nation's call by joining a service knowing their nation is at war and knowing they may have to go into harm's way. As Colonel McDonald says, "less than one percent who are able to serve choose to, and the finest Airmen in the Air Force serve here at Pope." 

We are American Airmen
Our mission is to fly, fight and win
We are faithful to a proud heritage
A tradition of honor
And a legacy of valor

Pope Air Force Base traces its history back to the earliest days of aviation to our base's namesake Harley Pope, to the 43rd Airlift Wing, the heroic flight of the Eager Beavers, to the most decorated Aircrew in aviation history led by Medal of Honor recipients Lt. Col. Zeamer and Lt. Sarnosky and to the heroes of today who call Pope "home". History has yet to write or capture the countless contributions the Airmen of Pope have made in defense of our nation since 9/11. 

We are American Airmen
Guardians of freedom and justice
Our nation's sword and shield
Its sentry and avenger
We defend our country with our lives

Airmen from Pope are deployed all over the world, whether taking the fight to the enemy every day, providing humanitarian relief or driving convoys guarding our deployed Airman. The Airmen of Pope stand in the gap everyday defending our way of life and leading the way in the area of responsibility. 

We are American Airmen
Wingman, leaders, and warriors
We will never leave an Airman behind
We will never falter
and we will not fail. 

Someone once wrote, "We are not here by force but freedom of choice, one of the most precious ideas that we have sworn to defend. So it matters not who we are or where we come from, but that we chose to serve and serve well."
Thank you all for the last four years.