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Commander’s Column

Col. Robert “L.A.” Brooks, Wing Commander, 104 Fighter Wing, Barnes ANGB

Col. Robert “L.A.” Brooks, Wing Commander, 104 Fighter Wing, Barnes ANGB

Barnes Air National Guard Base, 104 Fighter Wing - Westfield, Mass -- This will be our final UTA before we send out a large contingent of personnel and equipment to the Central Command Area of Responsibility (AOR). I would like to thank Lt. Col. 'BOA' Blake for his leadership in this AEF spin-up; he has done a phenomenal job. There are many others that have really stepped up to the plate and I want to thank you as well. Lt. Col. 'SNIP' Haldopoulos will be leading our deployed warriors over and back as the 131st FS/CC. He will be assisted by Master Sgt. Larry Brace, who will be the deployed first sergeant.. Both of these leaders are the right people for this job! While deployed everyone needs to keep Force Protection, OPSEC, COMSEC, and the Wingman concept in mind, and always expect the unexpected. Lt. Col. Francis S. Gabreski once said, "the wingman is absolutely indispensable. I look after the wingman. The wingman looks after me. It's another set of eyes protecting you. That's the defensive part. Offensively, it gives you a lot more firepower. We work together. We fight together. The wingman knows what his responsibilities are, and knows what mine are. Wars are not won by individuals. They're won by teams." Lt. Col. Gabreski has 34.5 combined kills in WW II and Korea.

Today, Brig. Gen. John Kelk (MO ANG) will be on base visiting and giving a talk at 3 p.m. at the DFAC. Brig. Gen. Kelk shot down the first enemy aircraft in Desert Storm, which also happened to be the first kill by a U.S. F-15. He is flying in to share that story with all of you. This is a rare opportunity, and I invite all those who are deploying, and those who can attend, to join us for Gen. Kelk's presentation.

As a reminder, Saturday we will have a Commanders Call beginning at 3 p.m. We'll have many DVs on the base, including Senators Scott Brown (MA) and Kelly Ayotte (NH), Congressman Richard Neal, Maj. Gen.'s Joe Carter and L. Scott Rice, and Brig. Gen. Gary Keefe, just to name a few. There are a lot of items to cover, but we will do everything we can to keep the ceremony as short as possible. Ensure your area of the base is looking sharp, and remember standard military customs and courtesies.

We want to congratulate Tech. Sgt. Dana Thayer who was selected as the NGB/A7S Staff NCO of the Year for 2011. He received the 2011 1st AF Security Forces Member of the Year Award. He is our second winner of this award, and let's see, we have been on alert for what - two years. Additionally, we congratulate Tech. Sgt. Chris Cekovsky who ranked #1 and Tech. Sgt. Steve Jeffers who ranked #5 in our state sharpshooting competition. Both are on their way to the national competition in April. Nice work by our security forces personnel - I am glad they're on our side!!!

Remember, attitude is everything. Attitude will propel you forward in all areas of your life, home, work, deployed, etc. Positive Mental Attitude - it is a process everyday of your life. While the will to win is important, it is the will to prepare to win that will give you success in every endeavor of your life. The 104th Fighter Wing is ready to deploy, you all have prepared, and you are ready. There are some finishing touches to complete - and we will surely finish strong!