News: Lt. Gen. McDew visits 153 AW Airmen
Story by Capt. Rusty Ridley
CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Lt. Gen. Darren W. McDew, 18th Air Force commander, met and spoke with Airmen of the 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard, during a visit here Dec. 17 to 18.
"The first thing I want to say to you is thank you very much," McDew said at an all call during his visit. "At some point in your life you made a decision to do what you're doing. I don't care why you made the decision; I don't even care why you continue to do what you do. The fact that you do it is significant," he said.
The general also applauded the 153 AW's role in hosting the Air National Guard's first active duty associate unit, the 30th Airlift Squadron, starting in the summer of 2006.
"You are in a special unit in a special location," McDew said. "You have set the standard for what Total Force Integration ought to be. And you should be proud of that."
McDew also encouraged Airmen to be proud of their Air Force heritage as well as what they have done to continue that proud legacy.
"Today's Air Force is the best we've ever had. And the reason it is, is because you're in it," he said. "The reason you're so good is because of what you have gone through for the last 11 years. You're the most battle tested, battle hardened, experienced war fighters this Air Force has ever seen. Bar none."
He also stressed the importance of each individual's contributions to the success of the mission regardless of their duty title.
"What we've learned over the last 11 years is that bold, innovative risk takers are agnostic to Air Force Specialty Code," he said. "We have learned to appreciate that our Airmen who don't fly airplanes are just as courageous, as talented and are as strong leaders. That's what makes us more powerful today than before."
The general also charged those in the audience to start thinking of ways to change how the Air Force does business in order to make it better.
"You know what the right thing is," he said. "You know what our Air Force ought to be. The culture we want our Air Force to be is up to you."
Many of the Airmen in attendance took the general's words to heart.
"He said we shouldn't knowingly continue to operate in outdated or counterproductive processes and functions," said 1st Lt. Anthony Muñoz, installation deployment officer. "He also said that we as individuals need to make changes to those things we do have control over and take ownership of the products and processes in our lane."
Although the general put the audience at ease with some humorous observations, he noted it was his responsibility to represent Air Force leadership and address serious issues.
"There is an area in our Air Force culture we have not gotten right--sexual assault prevention," he said. "I am convinced if we decide right now that it is done--it's done. We can fix this. We have to fix this. Nobody amongst us deserves to be treated that way--period."
McDew also brought up the importance of taking care of each other during the holiday season. He said there are people who will feel more and more alone and more and more troubled even during what is considered to be a joyous time.
"What I want you to do is be more intrusive," he said. "Stop a second when you ask 'How are you doing?' Delay long enough for someone to answer. And maybe you'll follow up with another question."
Finally, McDew closed his comments with a call to action for Airmen.
"Be bold. Don't be afraid to take on something different," he said. "That's why you're as good as you are. That's why our Air Force is as good as it is. It's because of bold, innovative, risk-taking Airmen--from our founders to the ones sitting in this room. You are going to chart a new course for our Air Force."