SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --
Earlier in the year, the 4th Fighter Wing established its priorities as “People, Mission, Community.” It was articulated by wing leadership that each of the three pillars play a pivotal role in the overall success of the installation. When balanced equally, they also help meet the objectives established by the Ninth Air Force mission objectives and achieve America’s national security benchmarks.
In order to reaffirm its commitment to the core principals of the 4 FW and better connect Team Seymour to the overall Air Force mission, the Ninth AF leadership team visited Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, from Sept. 23 to Sept 25.
Each member of the command team, which included the Ninth AF commander and command chief, Maj. Gen. Chad P. Franks and Chief Master Sgt. Benjamin W. Hedden, respectively, put special emphasis on the wing’s priorities and how each one works in unison to achieve the Ninth AF‘s mission of preparing, training and organizing Airmen to deploy in support of contingency operations.
Hedden visited various agencies on base to answer questions and see how he could advocate for the programs enhancing the installation’s support for its people.
Among the stops were the Youth Program Services and Airman and Family Readiness Center. While there, he greeted and thanked each member and listened to the programs offered to Airmen in need. He also offered his personal assistance to any agency that needed it in order to fulfill its purpose to help those seeking it.
He also made it a point to hear directly from the Airmen of the installation in order to get a better understanding of the issues affecting members of Team Seymour.
One such stop included being guest speaker at the installation’s newly formed Frontline Leadership Symposium. The week-long conference was aimed at developing more capable leaders and supervisors on the installation. While there, he was able to answer an array of questions from various topics, ranging from physical training updates to changes to the enlisted performance report.
“There is no group of people as selfless, dedicated and resilient as the Airmen who serve in the United States Air Force,” said Chief Hedden. “You are the foundation for which we take pride in our ability to accomplish any task the Air Force dictates. It is my job, as one of your leaders, to provide the guidance and mentorship to enable you to grow as wingmen, leaders and individuals. Just as it will be your job, as frontline leaders, to guide the next generation of Airmen.”
Hedden also conducted a dorm visit with the Airmen dorm leaders to see firsthand their current living conditions and brainstormed to see how he could help improve them. During a round table discussion with installation chief master sergeants, he prioritized developing new innovative ways to take care of Team Seymour’s Airmen.
While Hedden focused on enhancing the people of the installation, Franks received a better understanding on how the 4th FW is working hard to innovate and improve the way Seymour Johnson AFB accomplishes the mission.
Franks received a 4th FW mission brief before joining the 333rd Fighter Squadron on a sortie in an F-15E Strike Eagle. During the mission, he trained with aircrew members of the squadron, who are students at the F-15E Basic Qualification Course, and utilized the base’s tenant unit, the 916th Air Refueling Wing, to in-air refuel with local KC-135 Stratotankers.
Following the flight, he was able to debrief with aircrew members and emphasize how the tactics being learned during routine training sorties will help give each member the tools to accomplish the mission for combatant commanders overseas.
In addition to interacting with future aircrew members, Franks joined Hedden for a personal demonstration of the installation’s Virtual Reality Laboratory and learned how the 4th FW is currently leading the charge in innovating the way the Air Force trains its future aircrew members.
Although, the general and chief spent the bulk of their trip focused on issues directly affecting the installation and their connection to the Air Force mission, the other two members of the leadership team spent their time primarily concentrated on connecting the community to the installation.
Their engagement with Team Seymour involved, almost exclusively, caring for the backbone of the installation’s Airmen -- their families.
Kim Franks, wife of General Franks and Kat Hedden, wife of Chief Hedden, took time to visit spouses and community leaders to hear about issues that directly impacted the families of Seymour Johnson AFB.
During their orientation of the area, both spoke to the president of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce to discuss initiatives aimed at increasing military spouse employment in the area. They also visited the Wayne County Schools Superintendent where the new additions to Meadow Lane Elementary School were highlighted.
“Ensuring each of our military families are able to thrive is important to us,” Mrs. Franks said. “At any time, the Air Force may call on one of our loved ones to go serve in some capacity. We are grateful that there are communities like this one that support each of them.”
At the conclusion of the tour, the entire leadership team joined 4th FW leadership in a meeting with members of the Goldsboro Military Affairs Committee. The committee, which is comprised of civic leaders from the Goldsboro area, supports military functions and is heavily involved in the support of important military events such as the Air Force Ball, deployments and homecomings.
During their conversation, they discussed the future of the Air Force and answered any questions the MAC had about the future of Seymour Johnson AFB and the mission of the Ninth AF.
The emphasis of the Ninth AF’s leadership team on the priorities of the 4th FW help reiterate the wing’s alignment with the overall success of its mission.