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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, Saturday of March drill was a historic day as we launched our first ever aviation deployment in the F-15 Eagle (which, by the way, is owner of a 104 to 0 kill ratio in air to air combat). Our deployment was a huge success as we flew 94 sorties over a two week period and had an overall Mission Capability Rate of 80.2%. The first week we only lost one scheduled sorties and during week two we did not miss a single sortie. The Saturday deployment was witnessed by The Adjutant General, Major General Joseph Carter. He was impressed with his visit to the 104th and everyone on the base. He followed up with a visit and back seat ride in the D-model in Key West and was equally impressed (as was Brigadier General Rice). I want to thank each and every one of you who helped make the deployment a success. A special thanks to Lt. Col. Nash who was the Project Officer.

I also want to recognize and applaud the selfless service of a few of our members during the deployment. One of our members became very ill with a blood infection and was subsequently hospitalized. While we just welcomed him and his family home to Massachusetts Tuesday afternoon, he was in the Intensive Care Units in Key West and Miami for a week. He and his family received first class care from our amazing first shirts by way of Master Sgt. Tony Dultz, Master Sgt. Art Rief and Master Sgt. Don Wright. I would like to thank them for their service and epitomizing the wingman concept. I would also like to thank Ms. Sandy Wakefield, Major Dave Mendoza, Master Sgt. Nathan Mutti, Tech. Sgt. Nadine Bates, Col. Gunning and Lt. Col. Collins for their efforts during this entire process.

Another milestone was reached during March drill as Services won the Kenneth W. Disney Award as the best services flight in the Air National Guard. Congrats to Capt. Ray Diaz and ALL members of services; you all certainly deserve this recognition. In addition, we also recently passed our Communication Security (COMSEC) inspection, one more milestone on our way ahead in continuing the tradition of being the best Fighter Wing in the Combat Air Force. Thanks to Major Desarro, his team, and all of our COMSEC Responsible Officers who worked so hard to get us through the inspection with flying colors. We have had several other folks recognized as national level award winners:

Master Sgt. Ernie Smith: Top Production Recruiter in the country
Senior Master Sgt. Joe Delaney: Air National Guard Finance Superintendent of the Year
Senior Airman Neisha Nixon: Air National Guard Finance Airman of the Year

state award winners:
Senior Master Sgt. Joe Delaney: Mass. National Guard Honor Guard Manager of the Year
Staff Sgt. Stephanie Nugent: Mass. National Guard Honor Guard Member of the Year
Tech. Sgt. Sandra O'Fallon: Mass. Air National Guard NCO of the Year

As I write this article, Lt. Col. Pete Green is engaged with the Air Force Vulnerability Assessment team. I have every confidence we are in good hands with Pete, his leadership, and his team. As June approaches you will see us gear up for a phase 1 Operational Readiness Evaluation (ORE).

For those of you that do not know what a phase 1 is, it is when we test our ability to deploy into theater with our combat assets (people, cargo, and our F-15s). We will also regenerate the aircraft "in theater" and have them ready to employ in combat prior to ending the exercise. Our Medical Groups Health Services Inspection (HSI) is in August, so we will use the synergy of getting our deployment requirements tight as we prepare for the HSI.

I just want to stress to all of you how important your roles are in helping us to achieve so many important milestones. Your pride, professionalism and patriotism are clear in all that you do. People at every level see it, from the community of Westfield to our leaders on Beacon Hill, and your efforts are seen and appreciated by leadership at all levels.

Courage, Commitment, Camaraderie, Dedication and Drive were just some of the character traits I witnessed first hand while deployed with 160 of you to Key West. Those are the same characteristics I saw the first time I set foot on this base.
Those are the same characteristics others see when they come on base. It is all of these characteristics that make the 104th the best Fighter Wing in the combat Air Force.

Thank you all for what you do and for the attitude in which you accomplish it. I heard someone once say, "If you believe in yourself (and your wingman), have dedication and pride, and never quit, you'll always be a winner. The price of victory is high, but so are the rewards".