By Colonel Peter Nezamis, 126th Air Refueling Wing
/ Published October 20, 2010
Scott AFB, Ill. -- Another Southern Illinois hot and sticky summer is upon us but some will not experience those 70 degree nights, instead preferring to sacrifice vacations with the family for deployments abroad in support of ongoing OEF/OIF operations.
I recently had an opportunity to visit with 126th Operations and Maintenance personnel deployed to Turkey, and one common theme stood out - unparalleled willingness to serve, beyond even what I've traditionally believed to be reasonably expected. In fact, most deployers hinted they wished to remain longer on station, rather than rotate home, but understood the importance of participation across their entire organization for unity of effort.
As the summer continues, you all now find yourselves redeploying to yet another location. For some, the timeframe will again not be long enough and others are simply wishing there was more room and requirements to be included on the DRMD. These views have not only been shared by members of the Operations and Maintenance Groups. Our Fire Fighters returned from Iraq in May after a 120-day OIF deployment and the show of hands for who would return for another tour was unanimous. This unwavering support is not an uncommon response across all the squadrons in the Mission Support Group. From Civil Engineers, Services, Communications, and Security Forces your resiliency to volunteer for longer durations to the far reaching corners of the world is personally inspiring and gives me a humbling prospective on 'Service before Self.'
On average, Wing members serve in excess of 120 days of duty per year for the 126th. This is a striking figure when taken into context of a part-time career and the highly skilled demand of your specialties. Some of you, specifically in the Maintenance Group and 108th and 906th ARS, will likely exceed that figure substantially. We continue to upgrade and posture our facilities to better enhance our current and future mission capabilities. The Medical Group, Security Forces Squadron, and Communication Flight are all settling in to their new permanent facilities; all of which have been in the planning stages for over two years.
Currently we are putting the finishing touches on over $2.4 million worth of Geothermal Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning systems in the new Communications Flight Building, which will also include the Multi-Purpose Room and 126th Fitness Center.
Other facilities where geothermal upgrades are either completed or planned include portions of the Maintenance Group and the Deployment Processing Center. This is the first use of geothermal technology on a scale never before seen at Scott AFB.
Energy conservation of jet fuel, water, gas, and electricity is the name of the game these days as we are being mandated to make drastic cuts in our consumption levels. With the availability of funds earmarked for emerging technologies like geothermal, this project is a perfect fit for our Wing. The money we save on utilities coupled with incentives from the NGB will be returned to us for enhancement projects throughout our facilities.
Speaking of incentives, your attention to detail and consistency at ensuring your Government Travel Card bills are paid on time contributed to a package of incentives from the NGB totaling $40,000. I intend to return this money back to the Wing in the form of upgrades in our new fitness center, among other quality of life projects. FREE MONEY can be a good thing, keep it up!
Another project long in the planning stages is finally being completed just in time for our 60th anniversary Wing celebration this fall.
Hard not to notice is the KC-135E static display and memorial at the four-way stop of Golf Course Road and Pryor Drive. To the casual observer, it appears to be like any other KC-135E that most of you remember. However, that particular aircraft (59-1487) is in fact one of the original KC-135s assigned to the 126th back in 1976 and it has a storied and battle-tested history with our Wing.
It was only appropriate to return it to the colors of Strategic Air Command and place in a location of honor not only for generations past, present, and future, but as a living memory to those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the defense of our nation.
I want to express my heartfelt thanks for the dedication, determination, and pure skilled craftsmanship of all the members of the Maintenance Group and Civil Engineers Squadron for making this project one of the crown jewels on the installation. It will forever stand as a vigilant guardian of freedom.
My personal congratulations to the members of Logistics Readiness Squadron's P.O.L. Flight for being named THE AIR NATIONAL GUARD OUTSTANDING FUELS MANAGEMENT FLIGHT AWARD WINNER FOR 2009.
They will now go forward to compete at the Air Force level. First to come in and often the last to go home, your dedication to the mission, regardless of the conditions, is an inspiration to all of us.
To each and every member of the 126th ARW and 906th ARS -- WELL DONE -- as the Wing will be recognized this August at The National Guard Association of The United States (NAGUS) annual convention, as a recipient of the NAGUS Distinguished Flying Unit Award.
As we now enter the final push towards our ORI, less than a year from now, it's apparent to me we are poised and focused to meet and exceed command expectations. You're asking the right questions, putting forth the right efforts with your war skills training and mission preparedness, and show a consistent level of readiness no matter what is thrown at you. Understand it's a long race so keep the pace and stay in position to persevere.