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618 AOC commander honors Pope Airmen and families

  • Published
  • By Marvin Krause
  • 43rd Airlift Group public affairs
The Commander of the 618th Air Operations Center, (Tanker Airlift Control Center), Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, praised service members, and their families at Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina, February 21 for their professionalism, commitment and support.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Timothy Zadalis, former commander of Pope Air Force Base and the 43rd Airlift Wing from July 2006 to May 2008, spoke during the 440th Airlift Wing and 43rd Airlift Group's annual awards banquet, where he lauded Pope's Airmen for their service, their families for their unwavering commitment and local community leaders for their vital support.

"Everyone with a medallion around your neck needs to know that what you have done has been noticed. What you have done has made a huge, huge, difference--not only for Pope, but for our Air Force, for the Army here at Fort Bragg and for our nation," he said. 

Also, Zadalis said, I also want to say thank you to the spouses and family members because there is a strength that is required to support somebody throughout their career and I'll tell you that tonight is just as much your night as it is their night.

There will be some winners tonight and there will be some who don't come up to the front, but they are still winners, the general said, "everyone one of you are because of the difference you make every single day so, I thank you for that and I salute you."

Zadalis shared his thoughts on leadership concerning people and the mission and which of these should come first. He shared with the audience that he has always been a people first person from listening to his father, a 33-year retired chief master sergeant, who would say, nine times out of ten, I'm not taking care of my people. It bothered Zadalis when he joined the service that there was even a question of which came first--people or the mission. For years and years, he couldn't make the argument one way or the other because he believed in both.

"If any leader is going to put people first, you have to give them knowledge of the mission. For each and every one of us that starts at basic military training or your commissioning source through technical training, all of that military education, all of that experience that you have, gains you that knowledge of the mission. It's really incumbent upon those of us in leadership positions to make sure that next generation of leaders has the opportunity to learn because without knowledge of what they're supposed to do, it's just a job and we won't develop professionals in the profession of arms," he said.  

The second thing we owe our people are the tools to do the mission, the general continued, "that could be as simple as a wrench to turn on an engine and it could be something as elaborate as a fifth-generation fighter. We owe them the tools because we're going to ask them to use those tools to accomplish the mission and it's incumbent upon us as leaders to make sure they have the very best. We have to advocate for our people--we have to tell everybody when things are not where they need to be for us to execute the mission," he said.

"The third thing that we have to do is we have to give our people time to train with those tools. If we give them the knowledge and the tools, we have to respect their time and arguably, time is the most precious commodity of an airman. We have to give them the time to work with those tools to put that knowledge because eventually, we're going to ask them to deploy. We're going to ask them to take those skills and to go into harm's way potentially and execute them. We have to give you the time to train," he said.

"Now eventually when we ask airmen to deploy, we need to do something for their families back at home. We have to take care of them. We have to make sure that every family member that remains behind has the support installation they need. The spouses, the children, the family members that they leave behind. They should not want for the littlest thing for the support that they need while they are deployed. We as airmen, soldiers, marines, sailors, we have to take care of our families. As we deploy forward, have that faith, not only that our loved ones are taken care of at home but we have to know if we make the ultimate sacrifice, our families will be taken care of when we don't come home," he said.

"For the longest time in my career, those were the things that I had and why I argued people were placed ahead of mission but there was something missing with that and one day I was listening to a four-star commander that I happen to serve under talk about holding people accountable in the context of the military justice system. It dawned on me--there's two sides to accountability. Sure, we do not want to have those among us who don't deserve to wear the union amongst us, we need to find those folks and send them away. We need to give them what they deserve because they bring us all down and they don't deserve to wear the uniform. There are hundreds of thousands of young men and women who would give any opportunity to have the chance of what many of us have. So there is that side of accountability," he said.

"The other side of accountability I see here tonight as I look across the room--it's that positive side of accountability. It's taking that time with your airmen to give them the credit for the things that they do. It's taking that time and writing that performance report or that promotion recommendation or that annual awards package that sets them apart from everybody else. It's taking that airman who has the idea and innovation, putting them in front of that general officer that comes and walks through and giving them the credit for what they have done," he said.

"There are supervisors here in this room who have taken the time to hold you accountable for the things that you have done. My thanks to the supervisors for holding their people accountable in that way," he said.

After his speech, Zadalis recognized the 440th Airlift Wing and 43rd Airlift Group's annual award recipients by presenting them with their awards along with their commanders and senior enlisted leaders.