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Proper equipment saves lives

  • Published
  • By Col. Timothy Zadalis
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Commander
As the weather turns warmer, more and more people will be riding their motorcycles, and unfortunately that means motorcycle accidents will increase - it happens every year. It's also a proven fact that riders who know their capabilities, limitations, and use proper safety equipment will fare better during an accident than those who choose to cut corners. 

I recently witnessed something that reinforced everything our safety office and motorcycle training experts have been saying for years. I was downtown when a young man on a "cruiser" bike had a low-speed accident at an intersection as he was trying to avoid a car. I stopped my car, called 911, and ran over to help. He was shaken up badly having hit his head hard on the cement. However, he was wearing all of the gear we require for our Air Force riders, to include a heavy leather jacket, long pants, footwear that covers the ankles, leather gloves and a helmet. Because he was properly prepared, his injuries were relatively minor and after his head cleared he was basically able to walk away from the accident with a few lacerations, which he received because his helmet wasn't a full-face style. 

If he hadn't had his safety gear, I can guarantee you his injuries would have been much worse. The Air Force instituted strong policies regarding motorcycle safety and our aggressive approach has worked! This accident was a graphic reminder of how quick something can happen and that we are on the right track to helping ensure our people are safe. 

Another issue that has come up this week is personal information security. An Air Force member recently had a personal laptop computer with personal information stolen from an off-base residence. The theft is a harsh reminder that we must all be vigilant in safeguarding our personal property and information. We have taken the opportunity to present each of you with information that will help you if you are a victim of identify theft. Please read the article on page one for more information on this issue. 

Again this week we were given another opportunity to showcase Team Pope Tuesday when we hosted Brig. Gen. Seyni Garba and his wife, Seyni Garba Aissa Abdou. General Garba is the Deputy Chief of Defense Staff, Armed Forces of Niger, and was invited to tour Pope and Fort Bragg by the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I'd like to personally thank the men and women of the 43rd Maintenance Group for their on-target briefings on maintaining a healthy C-130 fleet. General Garba and his staff were deeply impressed with our procedures, pride and safety! He told us as he left that what he saw at Pope will be applied in his country to help maintain their C-130 fleet -- I can think of no better compliment for our maintainers! 

While General Garba toured the base Madame Garba saw how we take care of our families. The children at the Child Development Center amazed her as they greeted her in French and dressed in traditional African clothing. My thanks to Sandra Morrisey and the CDC staff for the tremendous greeting for Madame Garba, and more importantly, for what they do every day for our children! 

Of course I'm not the only one saying that Team Pope is the best. You can tell by the awards that keep rolling in from all levels. I'd like to congratulate the crew of mission Crome 41, including Maj. Lee Masztak, Capt. Andrew Black, Capt. Chad Steel, Tech. Sgt. Daniel Bobb, Staff Sgt. Kenneth Webb, and Senior Airman Michael Hopkins, all from the 2nd Airlift Squadron, on receiving the Air Force Aircrew of Distinction Award for flight safety. Also, congratulations to Staff Sgt. Michael Copenhaver, 43rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, on winning the Air Force Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez Award as the aircraft maintenance technician of the year. And finally, take time to congratulate all of the new Lieutenant Colonel and Senior Master Sergeant selects -- Pope, once again, set the standard! 

Always remember to stay SAFE, watch out for your WINGMAN, and never be THAT GUY!