Looking back on a year in command

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – --

It has been a little more than a year since Command Chief Master Sgt. Tico Mazid and I joined forces as your command team for the 62nd Airlift Wing. We thought it would be appropriate to go over a few of the major highlights from the last 12 months.

During the past year, we’ve played host to a number of elected officials, including Washington State Senator Bruce Dammeier, U.S. Congressman Denny Heck and even the President of Colombia Juan Santos. These visits give us the chance to boast about all the great things the Airmen at Joint Base Lewis-McChord are doing.

We also hosted several key leaders, to include Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody.

These visits to the installation help provide senior leaders with a deeper understanding of our mission and how it affects our Airmen. These visits are also an opportunity to showcase how an Army-led joint base differs from other joint bases across the Department of Defense.

More importantly, the visits provide JBLM Airmen a chance to discuss key issues directly with their senior leaders.

Over the past year, McChord has played a huge role in the testing of the Air Force’s newest tanker aircraft, the KC-46A Pegasus. Since last September, McChord Field has been involved in a unique partnership with test units from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., acting as the staging ground for the support aircraft involved in the testing.    

McChord Airmen have continuously demonstrated and honed their ability to deliver trusted, responsive worldwide airlift through a myriad of global exercises and missions. Exercises include: Ultimate Reach, New Horizons Honduras, Swift Response as well as various other Joint Operational Access Exercises. We continue to support the National Science Foundation’s research mission in Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica. Proudly, we are the only C-17 unit that provides airlift for this unique mission.

Another milestone from the last year has been the transition to the new Enlisted Evaluation System. We appreciate our Airmen’s support and understanding as these changes impact more than 80 percent of our force. We will continue to ask for feedback to ensure our Airmen are getting the most accurate and up-to-date information.

In May, we said a bittersweet goodbye to the 10th Airlift Squadron “Pathfinders,” as the unit inactivated after 13 storied years at McChord. And earlier this month, we commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Port of Moses Lake, where we had the honor to showcase our mission to nearly 3,000 Moses Lake community members.

This event was a great opportunity for us to thank the community for the tremendous support they have provided us over the years.

Since we are on a unique Army-led installation with two significant Total Force Air Force wings and missions, it was appropriate to merge the two services’ standards into one publication. Over the last several months, the JBLM Standards “Blue Book” has been in draft, but the final version is currently being routed for signatures.

This will be an educational tool for Airmen and Soldiers to understand each services’ standards on individual discipline, appearance, conduct and military courtesies.

Lastly, this week we bid farewell to Col. Ethan Griffin, our vice commander, as he moves on to take command of the 436th Airlift Wing at Dover Air Force Base, Del. We also hail Col. Stephen Snelson, as he and his family join us from Scott Air Force Base, Ill., as the 62nd AW’s new vice commander.

The list above is clearly not all-inclusive. We could go on for days about all the outstanding things our Airmen do every day. We look forward to continuing to serve with you for the next 12 months.

Thank you for all you do for our Airmen, mission and families.