Commander's Comments Published Aug. 18, 2008 By Colonel Peter Nezamis 126ARW June 1, 2008 -- First and foremost, I'd like to welcome Col. Patrick Durbin as the Commander for the 126th Medical Group. Pat replaces Col. Chris Knapp who left us to be the State Air Surgeon for the Missouri ANG. I know the Medical Group is in capable hands and expect great things to come. I also want to say a quick good luck, but not goodbye, to Col. Gary Nolan. After more than 36 years with the Illinois Air National Guard, Gary has accepted a position as the Air National Guard Advisor to the Director of Logistics, Headquarters Air Mobility Command. More will be said about Gary's departure as we prepare for the Maintenance Group's change of command; know that this Wing and the ANG will benefit having Gary in his new position! I continue to be amazed by your dedication and sacrifice for this Wing and ultimately, this country. I watched as you executed your missions during the recent Operational Readiness Exercise. Whether at home station or the deployed location, you faced each challenge head on and excelled in austere conditions proving once again why the 126th stands above the crowd. I watch, day after day as more of you raise your hand and say, 'here I am, send me' anytime deployment taskings flow. The bulk of our current deployers are from civil engineering, communications and services but we have many from around the Wing as a whole who have their boots on the ground as well. In the fall, we'll have our Operations and Maintenance Groups heavily tasked but the same is true -- volunteers one and all. Even though deployments have become almost standard for us in our daily thinking, I understand that deployments are far from standard life routine and I appreciate each and every one of you that continually chooses to put yourself in harm's way and leave your family behind to serve. We're continuing with the E-R conversion process and expect to be complete around Sept. Our flight crew members, including operations and maintenance personnel, are some of the few remaining E-model qualified in the Air Force. We have been tasked with flying the decommissioned E-models to the bone yard in Tucson, Ariz.; a fitting task for the first Air National Guard refueling unit. From start to finish -- the typical nature in which the 126th deals with all assigned tasks. One of our aircrews recently deployed to Bagram AB, Afghanistan and was the first to participate in an aeromedical evacuation utilizing the Air Force's high deck patient loading platform. One of the wounded patients was a Polish soldier; Poland is our partner in the National Guard State Partnership Program. One of only three HDPLPs in the Air Force inventory is located here at Scott AFB and we routinely provide KC-135 static aircraft for training medical personnel on the HDPLP to the 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. This mission was indicative of several programs coming full circle and reflects the impact the 126th is making in the War on Terror. I know the safety office and your individual duty sections will brief this information however, the '101 Critical Days of Summer' are upon us. I ask all of you to be smart and stay safe during these summer months. Look out for each other and don't be afraid to step in and stop something that doesn't look quite right. Safety must be a priority for us all. As I reflect on all we've recently accomplished and look to all the challenges that lie ahead, I know much has been asked of you and I also know that much more will continue to be asked. I have confidence in your abilities and volunteer spirit. I know we will continue to carry on the rich tradition of this Wing. Our challenges are many, but the course is clear!