Departing CCC gives thanks to 4th FW Airmen

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sergeant Layton Clark
  • 4th Fighter Wing command chief master sergeant
Two years have come and gone very quickly.

It seems like yesterday I was inprocessing here after a year tour at Balad, Iraq. It was a mountaintop experience, capping off a long period of separation from family and friends on three deployments and two remote tours from 2001 to 2006.

It was hard to endure the separation, but I always felt like I was making an impact using experience gained over the years in reception, beddown, employment and redeployment of our Airmen in combat operations, some of which were at bare bases and in-lieu-of taskings.

It was bittersweet in terms of lost opportunities with family and friends, losses suffered during attacks, and visions of the inhumanity and brutality of the insurgency and Al Qaida alongside the awe-inspiring and enthusiastic mission focus and orientation of our military, specifically, our Airmen.

The cause was, and still is, righteous and is not always supported by the media, vocal minorities, or even our elected officials. However, it is clear to me and those who have served there we must complete the mission to restore government, commerce and self-defense capability to the nation-states of Iraq and Afghanistan.

It may take many years and deployment rotations. After all, in our highly technical Air Force, it takes on average about six years to grow a staff sergeant. How long will it take us to grow them in Iraq or Afghanistan?

I want you all to know my time with you has also been a mountaintop experience.

It has been my honor to serve as command chief to the members of the 4th Fighter Wing, a wing full of warriors and heroes in the air, on the line and on the ground. This wing has been continuously engaged in this conflict since the beginning - more than 18 years ago with Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

I am very proud of the wing, base and community, and am proud to have been a part of this family.

Collectively, you have accomplished much in the past two years and should be proud.

You established a Community Capacity Action Plan in 2006 which changed the "work hard, play hard" culture to one of accountability. Your plan addressed the main concerns of the community, strengthened the wingman concept and reduced destructive behaviors such as driving under the influence by more than 70 percent from 2006 to 2008.

You assisted volunteer efforts, and bolstered Key Spouse programs, improving deployed family and member support.

You provided scholarships and education opportunities to spouses, children and military members.

You focused efforts on our community of single Airmen through the dormitory excellence program and the Airman outreach program with events like Seymour Idol, Build a Boat, and Guitar Hero competitions.

You held highly effective wingman warrior Days, safety days, training days, reintegration education seminars and a community appreciation day complete with a barbecue contest to give Airmen a moment to rest and recreate.

In Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, you undertook efforts to reevaluate and improve how we do maintenance, generate sorties and support our Airmen and families in order to deliver balance to the lives of our people.

You creatively brought live music to the deployed spouses' potlucks much to everyone's delight. You supported and cared for each other to enable mission accomplishment and strengthen ties in the community.

During the first two-day Operational Readiness Inspection ever, you were rated excellent and two of our units were given the best rating seen in their functional areas in more than 10 years, while 77 individual superior performers and 12 teams were identified.

During the holidays in 2006, following a grueling preparatory Operational Readiness Exercise, when you may have expected to take some time off, the 916th Air Refueling Wing and 4th FW sprung into action and generated a couple of tankers and 40 aircraft to do a flawless presidential flyover. 

As we tallied up the awards this year alone, we found seven squadrons or agencies taking Air Force level honors, 12 individual major command and Air Force award winners in functional categories and in 2007, one of your own was chosen as one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.

Your prowess in delivering decisive firepower on the enemy, and saving lives during the last Rockets and Chiefs rotation to Bagram is legendary and set a new standard. You should all know that the ground forces in their current disposition could not get the job done without you.

Some of you in our intelligence, security forces, explosive ordnance disposal, vehicle operations, engineers, contracting, medical and other specialties served with distinction, risked your lives while you saved lives, rebuilt infrastructure, patrolled, and trained and mentored your Afghan and Iraqi charges.

You received Bronze Stars, Purple Hearts, Air Force Combat Action Medals and sister service Combat Action Badges and decorations as a testament to your courage and professionalism even while doing many missions doctrinally reserved for the Army. All in all, the past two years have been full to the brim of activity and accomplishments.

As we change leadership in the wing this summer, I want you to know that the strength of our Air Force lies in the continuity of command. Even though leadership changes are on the horizon, the mission will be accomplished smoothly and without interruption - by you.
It will happen because 4th FW warriors and our community partners like the Military Affairs Committee always embrace change, adapt and never falter nor fail.

I hope you'll continue to take care of each other and to build upon the changes we have made with the new leadership team. Always remember each of you is a warrior delivering combat airpower on-target, on-time, for America.

No matter what your Air Force specialty or where you work in our wing or community, you put warheads on the foreheads of America's enemies. You are the best at what you do, and you make it look easy.

Be proud of your unit, yourselves and your community. Guard jealously the legendary "Fourth, but First" motto and the core competencies of the Air Force.

Be able to stand toe to toe, nose to nose, with your brothers and sisters in other services and explain to them how effectively we accomplish their mission and ours. Be able to articulate how we deliver precise, lethal ordnance, provide global reach through our refueling and airlift capabilities and are able to find, fix, and destroy a number of threats through our Intelligence, Surveillance and reconnaissance assets at the tactical and strategic level, and that we are the sole department that exploits cyberspace

That's what we do in the Air Force. My hope is that as current and future commanders, chiefs, first sergeants, enlisted and officer leaders, you would be able to tell everyone what we need to accomplish the mission and tell our story Our dominance is fleeting and only as good as the leadership you provide and the articulation of your requirements and our capabilities.

I look forward to the day when I serve with you as wingman warriors on the same fire team again.