By Col Peter Nezamis, 126th Air Refueling Wing
/ Published March 25, 2013
Scott AFB, Ill. -- As per usual with Southern Illinois, we jump from winter into summer but this year has been the exception with rain and cold levels not seen since 1993 - and some remember what we were doing in the ILNG then. Thankfully we've dodged the bullets on major flooding, so far. Things are finally drying out with the mercury rising. Soon the wet bulb globe temperature emails will begin flooding our inboxes. With the heat and summer months comes the familiarity of our deployment schedule and a transition into our inspection cycle. We are just under a year until our Compliance Inspection so now is the time for us to shift our focus and tweak processes.
I'll talk more about our Compliance Inspection in a bit, but right now I want to remind everyone that we're within the '101 Critical Days of Summer.' This is the period from Memorial Day to Labor Day each year when the Air Force experiences more mishaps due to increased activity levels. I certainly want all of you to enjoy the summer months and take time to vacation with family and friends. However, I want everyone to focus on safety in order to minimize accidents. Assess, consider and take appropriate action or ACT whenever you confront an unsafe situation. Many times, a little common sense can go a long way to avoid unsafe and even dangerous situations. Be good Wingmen and look out for one another as we transition through this historically critical period.
By now, you're all aware of the tragic losses we've experienced within our ANG and extended Active Duty families. Sorrow and sadness as deep as we have ever felt touch us all in so many different ways, especially with those we've served alongside. I know these losses hit hard for many of us and are especially devastating when they involve our greatest supporters - family members, and worse yet, our children. I encourage all of you to seek solace in each other and through any of the support systems we have in place. If you're not sure where to turn, the Chaplains are always a great resource - don't be afraid to ask for help to get through this extremely difficult time.
We have some big changes on the horizon for our counterparts in the 906th Air Refueling Squadron. During the June UTA, Lt Col Doug Edwards will hand the reigns of leadership over to Lt Col Gonzalo Reyna. Lt Col Edwards has been an outstanding commander for the 906th and a friend to the 126th; his leadership and friendship will be missed. However, I have every confidence in Lt Col Reyna and look forward to our continued efforts to make our association the benchmark for the Air Force and Air National Guard.
In addition, SMSgt Tommy Wilmoth and MSgt Brandon Porter will both be moving on from the Mighty 906th. Tommy and Brandon were both instrumental in laying a solid foundation for the association relationship and members of the 126th and 906th alike have benefitted from their expertise, hard work and compassion. I wish both men the best of luck as they move forward in their careers and have no doubt they will continue to excel at whatever challenges fall before them.
At the start of this column I mentioned we're entering our inspection cycle and that we are just under a year away from our Compliance Inspection. Now is the time for us to start digging deeply into our checklists, AFIs, other applicable guidance and compare all of that to our programs and the way we're doing business. In other words, take a good, hard look at how we operate day-to-day and start making necessary corrections and modifications. Don't wait until we're a month or two away from our inspection - the time to begin is now! I'm confident that your processes and programs are good...but let's strive to make things better. Let's go through this process with the attitude of making things better for our Wing and our mission and the inspection pieces will fall right into place.
I know we have a lot we're currently facing and a lot on the horizon so please look out for one another. Each and every 126th and 906th member is our most important asset; never lose sight of that fact and continue to do everything you can to protect our most valuable resources. Thanks for all you do and I'm looking forward to completing another chapter in our history books with all of you!