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Commander’s Column

Col James J. Keefe official photo.

Col James J. Keefe official photo.

104th Fighter Wing, Westfield, Mass. -- Barnestormers, this is my first article as your new commander and I want to set the tone immediately.

This unit has been part of my family since I was very young; I have a lot of pride in the 104th Fighter Wing. But it's important to remember that this unit is what we make of it today. It is a product of our work as a Wing and your hard work as a person, within your specialty...our future success depends on you, each one of you.

We have been blessed in the past with some of the hardest working Guardsmen in the country, setting the standard for other units to follow...and that tradition continues today. Our next big task is the Combined Unit Inspection, but to succeed, we will all have to work hard.

As we transitioned into the F-15, the Wing leadership team made a conscious choice to focus our efforts toward the conversion, then the Unit Compliance Inspection. By doing so, we did not practice our war-time mission as much as we had while flying the A-10. I understand the next few months will be difficult, as we regain our war-time proficiency, but our intense preparation for the Combined Unit Inspection is most important, and the right thing to do.

I am not naive to the fact there are a lot of rumors around the base, so let me quell one of them. The Wing is going to proceed with our Combined Unit Exercises, as planned, and on schedule.

There are discussions about a future runway renovation project, but the timing for the project is very flexible. We CANNOT afford to delay preparation for our inspection.

Without question, our focus is to prepare for the Combined Unit Inspection, and remain resilient if change happens. If the runway project comes to fruition, the unit will rely on our friends at Westover, to maintain our level of readiness; which will require everyone to remain mission and safety focused.

Communication, personal responsibility and dedication will be essential for our future successes. In a challenging defense and fiscal environment, our unit's future is tied directly to how well we compete with peer-units, and our inspection results and abilities to meet our homeland and global defense missions are critical to our longevity.

We cannot lose focus... our preparation is essential for successful execution. Thanks for all your efforts, your focus, and for staying positive.