Commentary: Kudos to Dover airmen for a job well done

Last January at my commander’s call, I talked about our strategic calendar. At the time, when we looked at September, it was extremely busy … too busy. So, we made decisions to lighten September’s load. We asked Air Mobility Command to move our Unit Effectiveness Inspection (UEI), and they did — we had it in May instead of September.

We moved our next base exercise from September to the second week of November. This came at a price.

Col. Joel Safranek

For example, we lost a few months of preparation for the UEI, but it did not stop the wing from doing well and earning an “Excellent.” As September approached, the load still was not light enough. The air show and the Air Force Ball in the same weekend proved too difficult; so we modified how we commemorated the Air Force’s birthday, changing it from a ball format to celebrating it in the squadrons and on the flight line the day prior to the air show.

Now that September is behind us, I am happy we successfully moved some of these events off the schedule, but recognize many had to remain in September. Most visible was our air show, bringing approximately 40,000 visitors to the base. Yet other events, with far less visibility, still had an enormous impact. For example, the week after the air show, Dover airmen volunteered their time to host a bike race for Delaware’s Special Olympics.

Recently, Dover hosted aircraft from nine nations in support of the United Nation’s General Assembly meeting in New York. Efforts like these allow us to build trusted partnerships, both locally and abroad, thanks to the work of Team Dover. Thank you to all who showed these partners Dover’s unrivaled installation support.

Although the calendar was full, it was not all work. Our Resiliency Tactical Pause began in August. However, there were several units in the medical group and force support squadron who started September with their Pause, helping ensure our airmen and their families are cared for. Additionally, some of our Airmen had the opportunity to hear senior Air Force leaders speak firsthand at the Air Force Association’s Convention in Washington.

Others had the opportunity to hear Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright speak during his visit to Dover. Chief Wright stated this was one of the best base visits he has ever experienced. He could tell from the moment he landed, Team Dover’s dynamic was incredible. Wing events like these help fulfill the wing’s priority to develop airmen, and I greatly appreciate the airmen who made these events possible.

The busy calendar at home station did not keep the wing from continuing its rapid global airlift mission. We sent 108 airmen to AMC’s Mobility Guardian exercise, increasing the command’s full-spectrum readiness and preparing our airmen for contested environments.

September also witnessed our airmen flying missions in support of the president of the United States and our combatant commanders, ending the month by sending C-5s to start the next multi-modal operation from Spain to Afghanistan. These missions will only get busier over the next few months; thank you to those who supported them, as well as those who will in the near future.

I know I am not the only commander who appreciates the work of Dover’s airmen. Our airmen also support the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations mission to return our nation’s fallen with honor and dignity. We closed September with the passing of the guidon at AFMAO and the retirement of their commander, Col. Dawn Lancaster.

In true Dover style, she appreciated the world-class support she received from our Airmen and has asked me to pass on her sincerest appreciation.

In addition to her gratitude, I want to thank everyone who helped make September such a success at Dover. Thank you for your continued dedication to the Team Dover missions.

Col. Joel W. Safranek is commander of the 436th Airlift Wing at Dover Air Force Base.

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