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Unsung Heroes

  • Published
  • By Col. Timothy Zadalis
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Commander
Team Pope was honored on Monday with a visit by Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He wanted to see the Pope-Bragg team and we showed him why we are America's premier quick reaction force. 

While at Pope, he got the chance to speak to Airmen and Soldiers at the base theater, and was briefed about the tools of the trade we use to get the job done both here and in the deployed areas. Whether it was a C-130 crew, convoy drivers, combat weathermen or cargo loaders, everybody did a fantastic job explaining their mission and their personal stories. 

But there are a lot of other people who worked behind the scenes to make sure the Admiral's visit was successful. These are the people I think of as unsung heroes, because they went above and beyond, but don't always get the recognition like those who directly interact with the distinguished visitor. 

The protocol team worked long hours setting up the itinerary, doing dry runs and making sure everybody involved knew exactly what was going to happen. Our public affairs team took care of four national media members, made sure our local media got the chance to talk to the Chairman and, with help from visual information, documented the entire visit for the Carolina Flyer and for base newspapers around the world. 

There were the Airmen standing on street corners in the rain, waiting to stop traffic so the Admiral's caravan could move quickly between stops on the busy itinerary. Standing in the rain isn't fun, but they did it proudly, saluting as the Chairman drove by. Their professionalism showed to all who saw them. 

There were the maintenance crews who had to tow two aircraft into new parking positions in front of the Corrosion Control Facility the night before the visit so our guests could spend time talking with our Airmen out of the rain. Moving an aircraft and backing it into the perfect position in front of a hangar is no small task, and it had to be done twice.
Or how about the Security Forces dog handlers, who had to screen every building the Admiral was visiting, and also had to screen vehicles coming through the gates to ensure security was tight. 

Our civil engineers and services folks worked the day before making sure the theater and other facilities were looking good. A special thank you to Vicky Haskins, Sandra Morrisey, and Tamiko Thomas who spent their weekend sewing new "Air Force blue" curtains for the base theater including a skirt that spanned the entire stage. The result of their efforts was a picture-perfect setting for the Admiral's all-hands call and the press conference for local and national reporters. On top of that, people around the base were out there cleaning around their facilities. Even though they knew the Admiral wouldn't be stopping there, they wanted to make sure the pride we take in our base was evident, even if it was only through a brief glimpse as he drove by. 

To all of those unsung heroes who pulled together to make Admiral Mullen's visit a success, I thank you. It is people like you who make Team Pope the Pride of the Force!
As always, remember to always be SAFE, watch out for your WINGMAN, and don't be THAT GUY!