Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Commander's commentary: Teamwork

Col. Eric S. Overturf, 442nd Fighter Wing commander, poses in front of A-10C 79-0122. Crew insriptions: PILOT: COL ERIC OVERTURF; CREW CHIEF: TSGT JIM MCGILTON; ASST CREW CHIEF: SRA ALEX CONNOR. Please also check the aircraft's ladder door art. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Tom Talbert) Hi-res

by Col. Eric S. Overturf
442nd Fighter Wing commander

2/22/2011 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- In February I had the privilege of attending this year's Hogfest banquet to honor our top maintainers.

Seeing all those world-class maintenance professionals in one room reminded me of a night as a young fighter pilot when a maintenance superintendent overheard me telling stories about a successful bombing mission.

The chief congratulated me for a job well done, and then asked if I knew who prepared the jet for take-off. Of course I did, I told him - the crew chief. Then he asked me if I knew who loaded the bombs and again, of course I did - the weapons loaders.

"Who built the bombs?" he asked.

After a few more questions I started to figure out the lesson that wise old chief was trying to teach me. With each answer, my role in the mission seemed a little less important compared to the role of the hundreds of other people who had contributed to putting those bombs on target.

I learned an important lesson that day - every person in a wing plays some vital role in mission accomplishment. We have many incredibly talented individuals in the 442nd Fighter Wing, like the four 2010 annual award winners that were announced at February's commander's call:

Senior Airman Peter Matthews, 442nd Security Forces Squadron was named Airman of the Year.

Tech. Sgt. Jessica McCowan, 442nd Command Post, was named Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.

Master Sgt. Vickie Chambers, 442nd Airman and Family Readiness Office, was named Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.

First Sgt. (Senior Master Sgt.) Angela Bryant, 442nd Security Forces Squadron, was named First Sergeant of the Year.

Each of these award winners made outstanding individual contributions to our mission to Train and Deploy Ready Reservists, but more importantly they set great examples for the kind of teamwork the chief taught me about.

That teamwork will be more important than ever as we tackle this year's top priority of earning an outstanding rating on our operational readiness inspection. Our maintainers will carry much of the load as they prepare our jets for deployment and combat generation, and many other parts of the wing will be inspected as well, but no one will work alone. All of us will pitch in and work together as a team to succeed whether we are directly tasked during the inspection or not.

Part of that team effort starts with personal readiness. Your supervisors will be responsible for notifying you about how to complete all the requirements in your readiness folder, but it's also your responsibility as a ready reservist to complete the unfinished tasks. Review the yellow pages in this month's Mohawk, which have checklists of what you need to accomplish, and talk to your supervisor if you need help with completing any of the required items.

You should also expect to receive a recall notification via phone number or e-mail address a few days before the March unit training assembly. This accountability drill is an important part of our inspection readiness, so please respond to this recall as soon you receive it. Let your family know what to expect in case they are the ones who answer the phone.

Finally, as we build momentum toward the phase-one inspection in August, we need to get our game faces ready.

I've been out in most of your shops and offices, and I see a lot of great people who are doing great things, but I also see that you're worn out, and I don't blame you. I know that years of inspections and re-inspections and preparation for inspections have not been easy, and morale has suffered.

I also know you probably didn't join the Air Force Reserve to take compuer-based training tests (CBTs) and wear mission-oriented protective posture gear (MOPP) every drill weekend.

The good news is there is light at the end of the tunnel. We're going to take this inspection head on and put it behind us so we can get back to what this great wing does best - exceptional service to our country in real-world deployments while having fun along the way.

Starting with the exercise this month, when inspectors approach you let them know the 442nd Fighter Wing knows our stuff! I want you to be polite and respectful, but I also want you to carry a "bring-it-on" attitude into this inspection. We have a great spin-up plan to prepare us for the inspection, and you have proven time and time again that you're the best in the business when it comes to preparing and sending Citizen Airmen down range for real world operations.

The phase-one inspection will evaluate our ability to do just that, so execute your part of the mission as you've been trained to do, and let the inspectors bring it on - because we'll be ready.

This will be a busy year for everyone, but I will be out in your work areas over the next few months to meet you and find out what I can do to make it easier for you to get your part of the mission done.

Thanks to you and your families for everything you do and will do over this next month- it's an honor to serve as your commander.

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