By Roland Balik, 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 14, 2018
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Twenty-five Air Mobility Command civic leaders visited Dover AFB Nov. 7-8, 2018, for a two-day introduction to the base, its mission and its Airmen.
The civic leaders, key influencers from 12 regions across the United States. During the visit, they had the opportunity to observe similarities and differences between base missions and foster relationships with other civic leaders within the command.
Gen. Maryanne Miller, AMC commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Larry Williams, AMC command chief, arrived Nov. 6, a day before the civic leaders, to meet with Team Dover Airmen in a separately planned visit.
“It is important that our civic partners gain a broad understanding of the mobility enterprise,” said Miller. “It is important that community leaders understand where their Air Force is at, and where we are headed in the future.”
The civic leaders had breakfast with Airmen at the dining facility, lunch with Company Grade Officers Council members, toured the 436th Maintenance Squadron’s C-5 Isochronal Inspection Dock, Fuel Cell, Sheet Metal and Fabrication Flights, as well as the 436th Aerial Port Squadron. They also met with C-17 Globemaster III aircrew and maintenance personnel during a tour of a static display.
The civic leaders also visited several of Team Dover’s tenant units, including Joint Personal Effects Depot, Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, and Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations.
“Bringing civic leaders to Dover helps them understand the Air Force’s level of activity, impact and need,” said Col. Christopher Karns, AMC Public Affairs director. “Civic leaders make valuable contributions to our mission that people may not be aware of, whether it is supporting Airmen and family members in a time of need or just helping people better understand what we do.”
Creating an opportunity for the civic leaders to see first-hand how Dover supports AMC’s mission set in routine and unique ways was essential to demystifying how Airmen across the command ensure rapid global mobility.
“Often times, people will draw beliefs about the military through media or even via Hollywood, but they won’t really understand what goes on behind the gate unless they are exposed directly to the mission,” Karns said. “People don’t realize that every 2.8 minutes somewhere around the globe, an AMC aircraft is taking off. It’s important for people to understand the level of activity and impact that the Air Force is delivering. . Whether it’s delivering hope, or delivering critical supplies in the fight against ISIS, AMC is getting the job done.”
Seeing the first-order effects of global reach and global power left a lasting impression for Karen Getchell, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, an AMC civic leader and former 627th Air Base Group honorary commander.
“The most rewarding part is the experience and seeing all the different missions that our Airmen have,” Getchell said. “It blows me away. It’s truly amazing. Sharing those things with people, seeing them understand and seeing that light in their eyes is a beautiful thing.”
Dover AFB was represented by five local and state civic leaders: Ernst Arndt, State of Delaware Deputy Chief Magistrate Emeritus; Joseph Yacyshyn, Wilmington Trust Company vice president and manager of community affairs; Lori Ewald, High 5 Hospitality, LLC marketing manager; Mark Rudo, Delaware Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, director of operations; and Robert Pancake, serial entrepreneur of multiple businesses.
Besides touring Dover AFB, the civic leaders were able to discuss topics such as retention, professional license reciprocity and education.
“One of the areas the Air Force is dealing with today is Airman retention,” said Karns. “These civic leaders are dedicating themselves to understanding the issues that will help keep Airmen in the service not only today but well into the future.”
One such topic of discussion was about how permanent change of stations can cause licensing or certification issues when family members seek employment in another state, a factor which may contribute to members choosing to separate from the service.
Karns stated, “You have civic leaders going to [Capitol] Hill helping people understand that when military families move, their lives are disrupted, and it takes a community to support transition from assignment to assignment.”
Understanding the importance of being better informed when discussing the Air Force in various forums doesn’t escape AMC’s civic leaders, as they continue to carry the air mobility flag with them, back to their home base.
“Every chance I get to talk about what we do at Dover AFB and what AMC does, I do it when I’m in our community and when I’m traveling,” said Pancake. “We’re out there bragging. We’re talking about you guys.”
Mission success relies on more than just those wearing the uniform.
“AMC is always there, always ready. But that takes support,” said Karns. That takes community leaders who understand what we are doing and how they can best help out.”