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AFAF supports those who support the nation

  • Published
  • By Col. Timothy Zadalis
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Commander
It saddens me greatly to announce that Team Pope has lost a great warrior. Our condolences and prayers are with the family of Tech Sgt. Scott E. Duffman, a member of the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, who lost his life in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan Sunday. All of us who serve know the hazards of service, but it is always hard when you lose one of your own. 

Fortunately the Air Force has a wonderful support network to help military members, families and retirees in times of need. The organizations supported by the annual Air Force Assistance Fund drive -- the Air Force Aid Society, the Air Force Village, Air Force Enlisted Village, the General and Mrs. Curtis LeMay Foundation -- are on the top of the list for those that support us through our challenges. They provide housing for retirees and widows of Air Force members, emergency loans or grants, and education assistance. And, for the next several weeks, we have a chance to help those who help us. The Air Force Assistance Fund campaign allows everybody an opportunity to contribute to one or any combination of these through payroll deduction. I encourage everyone to consider contributing to the AFAF when your key worker approaches you. 

I'd like to express my appreciation to Lt. Col. Tom Crimmins and the 41st Airlift Squadron for a wonderful series of events recognizing the squadron's realignment from the 43rd to the 463rd Airlift Group at Little Rock AFB, Ark., the first of many BRAC changes that are coming our way. The Blackcats are closing out a tremendous chapter in their history, but will be starting a new one as the only active duty C-130J squadron in the Air Force, and they did it with style. Gen. Hansford T. Johnson, former commander of Air Mobility Command and U.S. Transportation Command, was the guest speaker at the Blackcats dining out and praised the enthusiasm and pride that squadron members exhibited. 

I had the opportunity this week to attend a concert performed by the Air Combat Command Heritage of America Concert Band, under the guidance of conductor Lt. Col. Mark Peterson, as they made a six-stop concert tour through North Carolina. I had a chance to speak to the audience in Southern Pines before the concert, and met some very interesting people in the course of the evening. Thanks go to Lt. Col. Johann Westphall, 43rd Aeromedical Dental Squadron; Lt. Col. George Mitchell, 43rd Maintenance Squadron; Maj. Erik Lagerquist, 43rd Civil Engineer Squadron; and our Wing Chaplain Lt. Col. Cherri Wheeler, for taking time out of their busy schedules and traveling throughout the state to attend these concerts and representing Team Pope to some communities that don't get to see the Air Force blue very often. 

Enjoy a well-deserved day off today. You have earned this day through hard work and tireless service in preparing for the Unit Compliance Inspection. The base also went through three major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's) without a DUI and each one of you is to be commended for this achievement. 

Please remember to be SAFE, ALWAYS be there for your WINGMAN, and don't be "That Guy."