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Team Pope has Much to be Thankful for

  • Published
  • By Col. Timothy Zadalis
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Commander
During this Thanksgiving, it is important to reflect on our accomplishments both professionally and personally, and as a wing. There were a lot of successes and things we could have done better, but the bottom line is we as a base have a lot to be thankful for.

We've got people who are dedicated to getting the job done, with strong families who are there to support us. We've got an outstanding mission that we can sink our teeth into. A mission where we make a difference everyday around the world, and there are many others who are very thankful for what the men and women of Pope are doing in garrison or deployed.

We should also be thankful for our motivation. This is a very challenging time, and there is a lot on our plate. Each of us faces job challenges with looming cuts, BRAC and all the changes that are about to occur. On top of that, each of us face personal challenges with families and as individuals. It's easy to let the burden affect our morale and to demotivate us. But when you think about all the great things we have done, that is a motivator and something to be very thankful for.

We were a finalist for the second straight year as the best base in Air Mobility Command. We absolutely put on a great show for the inspectors, and one of the things that stuck with each team member was our outstanding people, our incredibly important mission and our motivation that is second to none.

This year Capt. Sharon Frazier, 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, was named the 2006 Air Force Dolly Vinsant Award Winner for her outstanding contributions to patient care during flight. She will be featured in Airman Magazine's "Airman Heroes" segment.

Master Sgt. Christopher Cooper, 2nd Airlift Squadron, was named the 2006 Henry "Red" Erwin Award winner for being the Air Force's senior enlisted aircrew member of the year. Tech. Sgt. Travis Crosby, 18th Air Support Operations Group, was awarded the Silver Star for his heroic actions during the invasion of Baghdad. He was presented his medal by Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne.

Maj. Brian Lewis and Maj. Michael Frame, 41st Airlift Squadron, and their crew were awarded the Mackay Trophy for the most meritorious flight of the year. The mission, named "Train 60," was the first-ever operational combat mission flown by an all-Iraqi aircrew. The flight was also notable because former Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and his deputy were on board.

We are also thankful for the 21st Special Tactics Squadron receiving an "Excellent" rating on their recent Operational Readiness Inspection and the 43rd Aeromedical Squadron being named AMC's best AES squadron.

This is a special holiday because it is also a chance for many of us to spend time with our families and loved ones. There are many members of Team Pope who are thousands of miles away defending our country and making the world safe from terrorism. Please remember them in your thoughts and prayers this week.

Because of all your sacrifices, whether in garrison or in theater, Iraqis and Afghanis can enjoy the blessing of freedom.