Thanks to Col Denise Donnell and her whole team at Stewart Air National Guard base. A special thank you to Lt Col Kris Geis and CMSgt Mark Cozzupoli for ensuring the success of our visit and productivity of our board meeting. Lt Luz Garcia and TSgt Jasmin Gutierrez were key to these efforts. Additionally, MSgt Michael Pacenza, MSgt Jodi Kosto, MSgt Ayshah Tual, MSgt Frank Medora, SSgt Andrew Zinicola, A1C Ryan Hoffner and A1C Patrick Swayne were the Base Defense Squadron (BDS) members that executed the set up for our meetings. Lastly, I would like to also thank SSgt Julio Olivencia and SrA Terrence Clyburn from the 105thAW Public Affairs office for supporting our visit.
Without these professionals our meeting would not have happened!
In my five years as Secretary, this was our first time holding a board meeting at an Air National Guard base. It took too long to make this happen, but meeting the Guardsmen at Stewart helped the board understand more completely the role of the Guard in the greater Air Mobility enterprise. The seven members of the board, our Board of Advisor Chairman and key members of the A/TA support staff began their visit the morning of Friday, August 10, 2018. Members met with the 105thAirlift Wing leadership, who provided their mission brief and initiated a great discussion on the status of operations at the Wing. In exchange, the Airlift Tanker Association president, CMSgt (ret) Mike Kerver, presented the association’s mission brief at The Base Defense Squadron’s Heritage Hall.
Our tour was initiated at the Base Defense Squadron. There, Lt Col Alta Caputo gave us a basic summary of their mission and guided us through their facility of highly trained Security Forces members. She explained how the unit augments Active Duty and provides “outside the wire” security in local communities surrounding US airfields in Afghanistan and Iraq. She also told us the sobering stories of four Stewart BDS members who made the ultimate sacrifice in performance of this important and dangerous mission.
After BDS, the tour continued on to the 105th’s C17 maintenance areas. There, SMSgt Dennis Pitcher, section NCOIC, met us at the Airlift Refurbishment section and described the shop’s capabilities. We then toured the 105th’s Machine shop, where SrA Nicholas Petrone and MSgt Michael Ravesi showed us the tools used to modify or create parts for the C17 and C5. Next, TSgt Jeff Miller showed us the aircraft structural repair capability. We then took a few minutes for a C17 aircraft tour. Even though our group had previously been on a C17, it was great to meet the people who work on the aircraft. We were able to ask them what they thought of the C17 versus the C5, which they’d worked on for years. MSgt Adam Fleischmann and MSgt David DeWitt provided a great tour and answered all of our questions. Lastly, thanks to Maj Eric Durkins who was the overall POC for Stewart’s maintainers.
Following our tour the group went to the base’s Heritage Hall in the Base Defense Squadron to have New York style pizza with Airmen. As I’ve said before, the highlight of our trip has always been giving the attendees a chance for some one-on-one time with Mobility Airmen. This trip had the added benefit of meeting with ANG members and it was 100% inspiring to spend time with them.
Immediately after lunch, the group met with the Airmen for a leadership panel. Lt Gen Findley (USAF, ret) and CMSgt Kerver (USAF, ret) addressed questions and relayed stories from their years of experience as USAF leaders.
A smaller group, to include the six officers of the board and the Chairman of the Board of Advisors, met with about 15 superstar mobility airmen from different units at Stewart. Our group wanted to get input regarding how we could improve the association. The Airmen provided enlightening input and highlighted that only two members within this group were aware of the association and the annual convention. It was important for us to understand how the association was relevant to these Guardsmen. Overall, the discussion was critical in an effort for us to understand how we can provide valuable support to mobility Airmen. It was a great mix of Operators, Maintainers, Loggies, and Support Airmen. Thanks to all of them for taking the time to help us make our association better.
On Saturday, August 11, 2018 we held our board meeting back at Heritage Hall. The meeting was busy and productive. We covered some ‘Big Rocks’ the association is dealing with including an important convention update, proposed Bylaw changes, a discussion of the future of the Association’s Apparel and Logo items. We also discussed our plan for replacing the Airlift/Tanker Quarterly editor and support for the Gail S. Halvorsen Education Center/Foundation. We then received reports from each of the officers, followed by updates on old and new business. This included a 2018 Second Quarter Treasurer’s report from Col (ret) John Murphy. Nevertheless, the focus continues to be on preparing for the upcoming 2018 convention.
In summary, we had a great board meeting and it was a wonderful opportunity to “strengthen air mobility bonds!”
Well done and thanks Stewart ANGB and the men and women of the 105th Airlift Wing.
I look forward to seeing everyone at the 50th Anniversary Airlift/Tanker Association, Air Mobility Command Symposium and A/TA Air Mobility Technology Exhibition held at the Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas from 25-28 October, 2018.
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