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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, Massachusetts -- Barnestormers, as we wind down 2009 and look ahead to 2010, I want to thank all of you for your service to this great nation. The Air Force has been engaged in combat operations continuously since 1991, and many of you have served multiple times in combat operations, in harm's way. One such individual who served and placed service above self was MSgt Jim Lindsey. On 2 December we buried Jim in Chicopee, it was a humbling time. As the 104th Fighter Wing Barnestormers exited the Church, The Battle Hymn of the Republic was played. The words of that song were very fitting for a warrior; they spoke volumes of what this country is all about, and what men like James Lindsey have sacrificed to make it such. I realize many of you were very close to Jim, and thank you for being strong for the family and taking care of them. Also on 2 December, Brian Redfern buried his wife Pamela, again with members of the 104th present. I ask all of you to keep these 104th family members in your thoughts and prayers, especially during this Holiday Season.

We want to congratulate SMSgt Shane Newton from the Medical Group. Shane was selected as our new state command chief, and will pin on the rank of Chief over Dec UTA. Congrats to Shane, we know he will do a fantastic job as our new state command chief. A big thanks is also in order for our CCZ team of Major Halasi-Kun, TSgt Menwer, SrA Grimaldi, and Dave Basset as we just passed a major milestone with a Pass no discrepancies in our CCZ inspection. Lt Col Haldopoulus also played a big part as our previous program manager. I want to thank all of the award winners in advance for their desire to excel. The persistent pursuit of perfection leads to excellence, and that is the type of effort we need day in and day out to achieve our vision of being the most respected fighter wing in the Combat Air Force.

Most of you have probably already heard, but we have cancelled the planned March Key West deployment. I made the decision with much regret, but felt we needed to "Laser Focus" on Air Sovereignty Alert standup. We are approximately three and a half months out from a major inspection, our first ever Alert Force Evaluation. In addition to simply standing up alert, we are also preparing for this inspection. Make no mistake; our focus is now zeroed in on this endeavor. There are many, many, moving parts included in the overall picture. One such animal is the daily flying schedule, ensuring our pilots meet their Combat Mission Ready rating each month. Other facets include our 24/7 command post, maintenance training, proper training of our security forces, and proper interface and execution of the ASA and daily fly schedule (just to name a few). In essence, what we do daily at the 104th is not a lot different than what we do in combat (for the most part). I am sure I echo most of your sentiment in that when deployed to combat, we can focus in on our AFSC training vice all of the associated ancillary training. I want to thank all of the commanders and supervisors who juggle the balls and get the job done.

Lt Col "Hatman" Fedora, Major Bill "Howdy" Leahy and Major Matt Mutti have the overall lead for the wing for our August 2010 air show. They will be working with many of you as we prepare to host the best air show in the New England area for this upcoming summer. Please ensure your area gives them the support they need to get the job done. Also, ensure your area is crossing off any fixes from our last ORE, it is important we fix any problem areas so they do not come back in our May ORE.

Lastly, I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas. I hope you all have a safe Holiday season and Happy New Year. Please be a good wingman to your fellow airman, continue to watch each other's back, and thank you for your persistence during this conversion. Winston Churchill once said: "We shall not flag or fail. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."