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Holiday Season: Time to Reflect

  • Published
  • By Col. Timothy Zadalis
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Commander
This has been a fantastic year for Team Pope, and we have a lot to be proud of. When I arrived here in July, I knew about the remarkable things that Pope was doing throughout the world. But since I've been here, not a day goes by when I don't marvel at our outstanding people, the unique mission and your incredible motivation to make a difference in the deployed AOR and in garrison.

Allow me for a moment to review some of the 2006 highlights. Our 41st Airlift Squadron is Air Mobility Command's best Airlift Squadron, and we have the best Operations Support Squadron, Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Comptroller Squadron and Airman and Family Readiness Center also. And just this week we learned that the Fuels Management Flight is the best in AMC for 2006. Our people and units won 15 Air Force level awards and 90 AMC awards. Our aircrews and maintenance personnel ensured the safe transport of 145 thousand personnel, 12 million pounds of cargo and flew 6,250 crucial combat sorties. Our men and women are deployed right now, working around the clock to provide freedom and liberty to the once-oppressed people of Afghanistan and Iraq, and fighting the Global War on Terrorism.

For the second straight year, Pope was nominated as one of the top 3 bases in AMC. Though we didn't win the award like last year, we have a lot to be proud of because we made history.

Our warfighting partners with the 23rd Fighter Group, 18th Air Support Operations Group and the 21st Special Tactics Squadron are continuously deploying and engaging the enemy on the frontlines with Marines, Soldiers and Sailors. Tech. Sgt. Travis Crosby, 18th ASOG, was awarded the Silver Star for his gallant actions during the invasion of Baghdad. He displayed bravery in the face of imminent danger, and received his medal from Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne. He represents the finest traditions of the Air Force.

After fighting in fierce battles with the Taliban and insurgents in Afghanistan, Army and Marine personnel have personally thanked our Flying Tigers for making sure they could go home. I couldn't be prouder of the contributions all of Team Pope makes everyday.
Both the 23rd FG and 21st STS excelled during their Operational Readiness Inspections. They were able to do this because of our dynamic 43rd Medical Group Airmen who provided world-class support for not only the inspections, but real-world deployments as well.

Throughout the year, our fantastic 43rd Maintenance and Operations Groups, and 3rd Aerial Port Squadron Airmen have worked closely with our Fort Bragg partners to facilitate their deployments and operations. All cargo and passengers were processed by our Red Hatters, and the legacy of jointness was truly on display during deployments and Joint Forcible Entry Exercises. Gen. Duncan McNabb, AMC commander, saw this first hand during his visit to Pope and Fort Bragg.

Our 43rd Security Forces and Logistics Readiness Squadron personnel are conducting vital detainee operations and providing security for convoys in Iraq. Several of our LRS personnel have been awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for missions they conducted all throughout the county. We have true Battlefield Airmen.

One of our Airmen went above and beyond the call of duty and demonstrated that he is a professional in and out of uniform. Tech. Sgt. Bryan Bishop, 43rd AES, provided crucial medical care to two civilians who fell ill on a civilian flight from Germany. One was a child who suffered from appendicitis, and Sergeant Bishop's actions led to the plane diverting to Canada and the child receiving critical care that led to a full recovery.

You should be proud of our successful operational readiness, major accident response and anti-terrorism exercises that have prepared us for future deployments, contingencies and our upcoming Unit Compliance Inspection. We will succeed because of your excellence, pride and attention to detail.

Through the high operations tempo in theater and in garrison, you have maintained focus throughout the BRAC process. There have been many changes to what Pope will look like after the realignment. But, I'm thrilled to have the 440th Airlift Wing's Detachment 1 here. Col. Brett Clark and his team of 12 professionals are preparing for the arrival of the rest of the wing next year.

Whatever the situation, Team Pope rises to the occasion. We received short notice that the President was arriving for a speech he was giving at Fort Bragg on July 4. Our 43rd Mission Support, Operations Groups and 43rd Airlift Wing Protocol Office rose to the occasion and provided seamless support. The 43rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office provided stellar assistance to the White House Communications Office and made sure the White House Press Corps had everything they needed to report on this historic event.
After all these accomplishments, we certainly have a lot to hang our hats on. But, we will not rest on our laurels. I believe we will do even greater things because of you and the pride you display each and every day.

Enjoy this holiday season and spend time with your families and loved ones. Remember, don't drink and drive. Be SAFE and ALWAYS be there for your WINGMAN.