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Kicking off 2012 the right way; some standouts

  • Published
  • By Col. Lenny Richoux
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing commander
With this being the last full week of January, I'm proud to see that we are kicking off 2012 with a phenomenal start and building on the list of accomplishments from the previous year.

Not just here at the finest Air Mobility Wing on the face of planet, but Airmen everywhere across the U.S. and abroad are doing our nation's bidding. Your hard work has not gone unnoticed and I'm truly grateful for your dedication. As some of the last American forces pulled out of Iraq including our very own, Tech. Sgt. Shane Monterosso, Staff Sgt. Curtis Raines, and Senior Airman Romar McGee from the 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron, who were on one of the last convoys out of Iraq. I want to take a minute to reflect on all of your accomplishments in the Iraqi area of responsibility.

When you're good there's no need to brag, so I'll do it for you. Dec. 19, 2011, marked the first day since Jan. 17, 1991, that we did not produce or fly an air tactical operation in Iraq. Which means for over the last two decades since the Gulf War ended you have provided the manpower and support needed to fulfill more than 7,600 consecutive days of taskings in Iraq alone.

During that time you also provided air support for more than 500,000 sorties to support our joint force community. Mobility Airmen contributed to the movement of more than 2 million tons of cargo and transported more than 4.5 million passengers. Every hour of every day and night our defenders stood guard, accumulating more than 183,000 hours of sentry duty.

We've led conveys, built infrastructure, negotiated with tribal leaders, trained and mentored our Iraqi counterparts, relentlessly maintained vehicles, saved countless lives through disposal of improvised explosive devices, and helped build a foundation for the future of the citizens of Iraq alongside our joint and coalition partners. Wow, give yourself a pat on the back; you deserve it.

The Air Force band came here this week, and I hope you were able to take a minute for yourself and unwind with some of the most talented musicians the Air Force has to offer. I'm particularly jealous of anyone that was able to attend the concert, and meet two living legends. The Air Force band is dedicating its Florida tour to the Tuskegee Airmen, and we had the honor of hosting two of those great Americans. Retired Chaplain (Col.) George Brown and retired Lt. Col. George Hardy joined in celebrating our Air Force history. If you haven't already done so, I encourage each of you to read how these men, against all odds, dedicated their lives to the freedom of all Americans at a time when they were separated from their brothers in arms and their fellow Americans. I hated to miss it, but I was called to sit on a promotion board.

While going through hundreds of records of some amazing Airmen on that promotion board, one thing started to stand out. Airmen that had completed their professional military education on time certainly had a leg up on the competition. Our core values require us to promote and secure PME for ourselves and our subordinates. PME is the key to successful transition to the next grade. If you're ready to reach the next level of your career, make sure you have the training and education that goes along with that responsibility.

Speaking of reaching the next level, Staff Sgt. Roger Zehr from 6th Operations Support Squadron was recently certified as a High Risk of Isolation Master Instructor. This certificate allows him to train other instructors in a course that increases the lifesaving skills of deployed troops. Zehr also taught four separate courses during a McGuire AFB Reserve training weekend. Finally, at MacDill AFB Zehr has conducted more than 25 Survival Evasion Rescue and Escape courses across three COCOMs, contributing to the "mission ready" status of more than 115 personnel.

I can tell you from personal experience he is a huge hit with the Tampa Bay Rays and Lightning. Way to go Roger, you make the entire base look incredible.