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Looking ahead

  • Published
  • By Col. Lenny Richoux
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing commander
September 23 marked the end of summer and the first day of fall. So how was that cool, crisp first morning of fall? Were you reaching for a sweater?....probably not! The start of autumn in Tampa is just another day in paradise, but it is a good time to reflect on all of your accomplishments over the summer, and look ahead to this incredibly busy final months of the year.

This summer we sent some of our best out to Washington state for AMC's Rodeo competition, and wouldn't you know it, our maintenance group brought home the hardware. We kicked off the 101 Critical Days of Summer and came out the other side feeling pretty good about ourselves. We kicked off our first-ever Caring for People forum, to ensure we are taking care of our families. I think we've made real progress in that area. We were one of the first bases in the Air Force to try the Food Transformation Initiative, where our meal card holders are able to use their meal card at any FSS location on base. Nearly half of our commanders rotated out and we welcomed brand new commanders who bring passion, and a new way of doing business to MacDill. We also welcomed 39 brand new honorary commanders, because in my opinion we have the best community-to-base relations in the Air Force. If you don't believe it, simply wear your uniform off base, and see how long it takes for someone to thank you for your service. We took an evening to remember our heritage, and for the first time we made the Air Force Ball free to E-4s and below, and they responded along with the other 600 people that attended. We also attended Operation Helping Hand to lend a hand to our wounded warriors, and we welcomed home three fallen heroes who reminded us that freedom isn't free. Over the summer, you have accomplished a lot more than I could even begin to mention in this short paragraph, and there is more to be done.

Don't look now, but MacDill's largest event is right around the corner. The MacDill AirFest will be Nov. 5-6, and we will need everyone's help to make this 150,000-plus attendee event possible. This is your chance to give back to our community. In the very near future, we are going to open another building at USCENTCOM. USSOCCENT will make its new home there. On a different note, I will be heading out to Phoenix Rally for a visit with Gen. Johns to find out his thoughts in regard to AMC's vector. We're going to welcome a team from AMC for Global Thunder, which will last a couple of days. We will need to be on our game for that one. And of course, we will take time to spend with our families during the holidays. During the holidays, I have a couple of favors that I would like to ask of you. First, take time to spend with your family, and don't worry about hoarding your leave. These are the good days that you'll remember. Next, keep safety first, and fun a close second!

You probably already know that each week I pick a couple of heroes that are going above and beyond to recognize in this paper. This week I have chosen a couple of Airmen who have looked our enemy in the eye and did not flinch. Senior Airman Kevin Eells and Tech. Sgt. Mike Chickadel, were awarded numerous medals including a Purple Heart, and an Air Force Combat Action Medal for their actions during a direct fire engagement with the enemy while deployed to FOB Kutschbach, Afghanistan. During two separate hostile engagements totaling 10 hours, their team faced a barrage of attacks from a deliberate ambush with radio controlled improvised explosive devices. Their heroic actions and leadership directly contributed to approximately 20 insurgents killed in action, and continued the strong hold of key terrain. Kevin and guys are my heroes, thank you!

I am proud to serve with you in the finest Air Mobility Wing on the planet!