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Use this year's lessons to help next year

  • Published
  • By Col. Timothy Zadalis
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Commander
Another great year has come to an end for Team Pope. We stepped up to our "People, Mission, Motivation" motto and proved why we are the best. So as we approach the end of the year, we need to step back and reflect on our tremendous accomplishments! 

What sets Pope AFB apart is its people. Each of you steps up daily and makes a difference. Whether at home or deployed, the reputation of Pope warfighters is legendary. All five major commands that call Pope AFB home, each with their unique warfighting mission, face their own challenges as the BRAC timeline progresses. Yet none of us has let the BRAC transition stand in the way of putting combat power in the hands of Combatant Commanders. From C-130 and A-10 sorties, to convoy drivers, gunners, and Combat Controllers calling in strikes, each of you has placed "Service before self." And when you're not deployed, your commitment to "Excellence in all we do" has proven the old "No Hope Pope" label no longer applies. We take care of our families and Wingmen, and have a little fun doing it! And when it comes to motivation, everything we do is over the top! 

When I look back at 2007, I see many successes beginning with the Wing earning an "Excellent" rating on the Air Mobility Command Unit Compliance Inspection. We welcomed a new war fighting partner - the Air Force Reserve's 440th Airlift Wing. We stood down Air Combat Command's 23rd Fighter Group, who has been flying their Warthogs at Pope for 15 years. We rallied from behind to win the AMC Matchup competition, privatized our housing, and garnered countless awards. We stood in formation with the Air Force Honor Guard at Arlington National Cemetery as we said a final goodbye to Lt. Col. Jay Zeamer, our 43rd Airlift Wing Medal of Honor recipient. We put together the largest airshow ever and wowed 240,000 visitors! Our night airshow and 1940s Hangar Dance brought our proud heritage alive. Who will ever forget the Aeroshell Acrobatic Team performing in formation as the sun set! A week later, we hosted more than 1,200 civic leaders from across North Carolina and the League of Municipalities. 

And did we have fun this year! I will never forget the superheroes who raised over $10,000 for the Air Force Assistance Fund in a 24-hour endurance run. How about the white-top with the Giant Voice installed so that I could try to win the Loud Stereo Contest--KC and the Sunshine Band never sounded so good. Remember the Wing Runway 5K in the fog, Pope Floats, Military Family Appreciation Week, Goofy Golf, and the Halo 3 tournament--there are so many more memorable events I could mention.
While it has been a great year, it has not been without losses, both at home and on the battlefield. I ask each of you to pause and remember those who are no longer with us and their families, and vow that in 2008, we will return safe and sound. 

As the year ends, Carol and I would like to wish everyone at Team Pope happy holidays, and we want each of you to know that there is no finer Wing or installation in the Air Force to command. My best memory of 2007 is sitting back and watching you SOAR!
Always remember, we want everyone to stay safe through the holidays so we can make the New Year an even bigger and better one, so be SAFE, watch out for your WINGMAN, and never be THAT GUY!