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How lucky we are to serve here; some Team MacDill standouts

  • Published
  • By Col. Lenny Richoux
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing commander
Did you know MacDill celebrated an anniversary last week? According to our crack historian, Bill Polson, we did. If you had been living in Tampa on July 14, 1939, you might have seen this headline in over-sized letters across the front page of the Tampa Tribune: "TAMPA GETS THE BIG AIR BASE." The decision the day before by the Secretary of War ended an intense competition to host what is now MacDill Air Force Base. That choice 74 years ago to build the base on Catfish Point just south of Ballast Point ultimately made Tampa an Air Force town!

It's also the reason we now enjoy serving our country in such gorgeous surroundings as part of a first-class community. If this is one of your first assignments, you may not realize how lucky you are to be here. Of the nine locations I've lived and served in during my 15 assignments, this combination of location and community is definitely tops, and there are some great ones on that list. Take advantage of what we have here. Better yet, get involved, and give back to the community that keeps giving so much to us.

There's another reason this past week has been awesome for MacDill. We welcomed our new 6th Air Mobility Wing vice commander and his family to the base and the Tampa area. Col. Dave Almand, his wife Cathy and their sons Travis and Lance arrived safely and are getting settled. It's great to have the Almands here, and I know you all will make them feel like they're old friends.

We put Colonel Almand straight to work too. He jumped right into a fast-paced schedule including an exercise that tested a critical element of our shared mission with the 927th Air Refueling Wing. From all accounts, we knocked that one over the fence. Some thought we might be a bit rusty given the seven months that passed since our operational readiness inspection, but you performed like the IG just left yesterday.

Fantastic job by Maj. Laura Holcomb, 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander, and our Installation Deployment Officer, Thomas Sanders, on their well-oiled mobility machine. Hat's off as well to Dave Cresswell in Wing Plans and his Exercise Evaluation Team. They designed and executed a dynamic and flexible exercise that scratched all the itches even while compressing the schedule to accommodate real-world realities. First-rate effort!

Lots of people helped make this one a win, like Staff Sgt. Ursus Vargas from the 6th Medical Support Squadron. Vargas did a hands-on inventory of 627 line items during the run-up to the exercise. That's how you make sure medical pallets are 100 percent mission ready. And these exercises are the sorts of things that help us make sure we're 100 percent mission ready to carry out our nation's bidding. Well done!

Do you have an appointment at our clinic anytime soon? If you do, make sure you stop by and shake the hard-working hand of Senior Airman Todd Lange from the 6th Medical Support Squadron. Airman Lange's willingness to donate sweat and shoe leather to the mission cut the time needed for the clinic to conduct an annual inspection of 450 medical records from 45 days to 10. How? Ten at a time, he walked each of those 450 records down to the Optometry Clinic for inspection. When they finished he walked 10 more down and took 10 back. According to the inspecting officer, no one else has ever given that level of extra effort and personalized customer service in the inspector's eight years of conducting that inspection. Airman Lange, you demonstrated the extra-mile effort that makes us the best Air Force in the world!

Another extra-miler is Capt. Jesse Caldwell of the 91st Air Refueling Squadron. As the Detachment commander of the 2011 RED FLAG-Alaska, Captain Caldwell, single-handedly organized and planned the arrival of the tanker task force for the exercise, including deployment and bed-down of tanker assets from two other air refueling wings ... all in a single week. Wow!

Finally, you and I can learn something from the I-can-help example of Staff Sgt. Sacha Mays. If you live in the dorm, you may already know her. She's an Airman dormitory leader assigned to the 6th Civil Engineer Squadron, and she has been tireless in her multiple efforts to improve the quality of life for our most junior Airmen living in the dorms. Great news for Sergeant Mays and the Air Force: she was selected recently to apply her helping hands in a new arena via the Nurse Enlisted Commissioning Program. Congrats Air Force; perfect choice!

Keep pushing the envelope, team. It's your energy that's propelling the most awesome Air Mobility Wing on the face of the planet!