BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Massachusetts --
My six month chapter as your acting Wing Commander has come to a close. I've have been honored to serve with you, for you and beside you. Together we have brought this Wing from an era of tremendous success in the A-10 Thunderbolts, into the new world of the F-15 Eagle. We are on a road of excellence and continued success.
Soon we will be defending the Northeast and the United States, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 52 weeks a year, from all threats, foreign and domestic, just as Otis did so well for so many years. Since last February, we have torn up the base, almost from top to bottom. Construction is everywhere, on our ramps and buildings.
We have changed the make up of our work force manning with new mission statements, unit tasking, and unit manning documents. We have retired some from our ranks and welcomed many new faces, some from Otis, other units, prior service, and new people from our community. And we have started regularly flying jets on training missions.
I will miss the daily work here at Barnes as the Wing Commander, but I will not be gone from the Massachusetts Air National Guard. I will move back to State Headquarters as the Air Commander's deputy and I will continue to work tasks and responsibilities for the MA ANG JFHQ.
You now have a new commander, Col Robert 'LA' Brooks, from the LA ANG, who brings a vast amount of F-15 experience, knowledge and leadership to this base, to carry on the work we have begun together. We will succeed and with MG Carter's, Maj Gen Akey's and Col Brooks leadership. We will soon become operational in our new Air Sovereignty Alert (ASA) mission.
On the national level, the new Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Swartz, is tasked with building the reputation of the Air Force, back into a well respected organization and a decisive fighting arm of the Department of Defense. Recently the USAF has faltered in direction, focus, and adaptability. He has challenged us all to regain our respected dominance in air, space, and cyberspace by:
- Reinvigorate the Air Force Nuclear Enterprise. (Not too applicable at Barnes)
- Partner with the Joint and Coalition team to win today's fight. (For Barnes, we will build our ASA mission to flawlessly defend the home front and decisively fight abroad)
- Develop and care for Airmen and their families. (We must always take care of our people at Barnes, now matter what your job or background - Everyone at Barnes has a crucial role and part to play in the success of our mission)
- Modernize our aging air & space inventories. (In other words, at Barnes we must stay on top of our jets and equipment. Fight for improvements and recapitalization of our fleet)
- Acquisition Excellence. (Though this specifically refers to recent KC-X tanker issues, we can do our part at Barnes to ensure we keep our processes, tasks and procedures on the mark to fly, fight, and win with the best F-15s we can, using the best and brightest people our community has to offer). Gen. Swartz finishes with the task to always remember - Mission First, but People Always.
With that, I end my short chapter at Barnes as the Commander. I follow many outstanding Wing Commanders, since I joined the unit to fly A-10s in 1989. Great leaders like Maj. Gen. Dick Platt, Col. Dave Cherry, Col. Dan Swift, Col. Mike Boulanger, and Col. Marcel Kerdavid, each wrote their chapter on transforming Barnes from a strategic reserve, not quite ready for war, to a fully integrated and operationally ready reserve of the United States Air Force. They have taken us to war and back in Bosnia, in Kosovo, and several times into Iraq. They have led us through numerous 'Outstanding' inspections, and accordingly we have grown into an Air Guard base with a reputation of excellence throughout the total force, Air Guard and Air Force alike. We have succeeded in every battle, conflict, inspection, and challenge placed in front of us. We have done this because we work as a team in a great profession, the defense our country. And we have done it with outstanding airmen.
Always remember, we have the best and the brightest working at Barnes because we; A - Always take care of our fellow Airman. We work hard, play hard, exercise regularly, and strengthen our mind and body. We always seek to increase our ranks by retaining our outstanding workforce and continuing to recruit the best our community has to offer. B - Back to Basics. We continue to learn and expand our job knowledge to the best of our ability. We diligently follow the rules and respect our fellow Airman, from our Commander to each and every airman on our base, to spouse, family, and friends. We are true to our self's, we are American airmen. C - Courage to always do the right thing. We have the courage to always follow rules, regulations, customs and courtesies. We have the courage to make those hard calls to correct and help fellow airman when they falter. We have the courage to mentor our airman to excel as an active and production part of the wing, regardless of race, color, creed, religion, job, or background. And we have the courage to stand up for what is right about this Air Force and Air Guard, and that is its people. We hold true to the airman's soul of Integrity, Service and Excellence.
There is a great team here at Barnes. I am proud of the leadership and people, Col. LA Brooks, Lt. Col. Jim Keefe, Col. Tony Gwosch, Col. EJ Gunning, Lt. Col. Sean Collins, Chief Al Reale, the commanders, the Chiefs, the Shirts, the supervisors, the Groups of Wing Headquarters, Maintenance, Medical, Operations, and Support, and each and every airman in this Wing. Together we have succeeded, and together we will build a better Wing, base and new mission.
Thanks for your service.
Brig L. Scott 'Catfish' Rice