DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. --
Our new wing commander wants us to all understand our Dover Experience, and I am excited to help craft that narrative. He also wants us to find a way to make the experience what we want it to be. I’ve been in command for a year now and I thought I’d share my thoughts on what my Dover Experience has been so far. More than anything else, it has been the people associated with this great base that defined my experience so far.
Dover Air Force Base is blessed to have some of the most professional Airmen I’ve served with in my 24-year career. No matter the patch on our uniforms, be it the 436th Airlift Wing, the 512th Airlift Wing, the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, the Joint Personal Effects Depot, or the Air Education and Training professionals in our Field Training Detachment, the assembled teams at our base are known throughout the Air Force as “The Pros from Dover!” Our peoples’ outstanding accomplishments don’t go unnoticed, either. The list of Air Mobility Command and Air Force-level awards our folks have earned are extensive, and something we should all be proud of!
The Dover reputation extends well beyond the Delmarva Peninsula. When it comes to executing our global airlift mission, we are recognized as doing it better than most. I routinely receive calls from senior controllers at the Tanker Airlift Control Center telling me about very high profile missions, many no-fail in nature, and they want one of our Pros from Dover to execute the mission. When the Army needs to rotate a Combat Aviation Brigade in and out of Afghanistan it is our C-5Ms that get the call, and our aircrews and maintainers set record maintenance capable rates and close delivery timelines ahead of schedule. Our C-17A crews and maintainers maintain a Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed 24/7 alert posture, and when they launch on a mission the Army users get mission excellence every time. Vice President Biden got to witness us deliver excellence first hand when he flew with the Pros from Dover during an unannounced visit to Iraq.
The people of the City of Dover and the surrounding communities are equally outstanding, and an integral part of the Team! Never in my career have I witnessed a community come together so greatly in support of the Airmen that happen to call their city home, even if for only a few years. Our base and community leaders have embarked on an Air Force-leading Public-Public-Public-Private Partnership (P4), now called the First State Community Partnership, and have signed more memorandums of understanding creating more programs that are mutually beneficial to our Airmen and the community than any other base.
At the very first P4 meeting I told those attending a story about meeting a crew chief shortly after the 4th of July and asked him how he spent his holiday. He told me he didn’t do anything because by the time he got off work all his buddies had left for the long weekend and he didn’t have any transportation or friends left in the area. Within minutes of that story, two initiatives were put into motion to help support our Airmen. Residents of Dover offered a program to “adopt” an Airman, modeled after the sponsorship program at our Service Academies, and within a few months more than 20 of our single Airmen living in the dorms had families in Dover willing to take them into their homes on holidays and weekends. Additionally, the base and city initiated a plan to enhance transportation options through public transportation. The parking lot at our main gate is currently being reconfigured to aid in bus traffic coming to take our Airmen to town.
If your experience hasn't mirrored what I've written above, or you are looking for more, I strongly suggest getting involved with the base and community to take a more active role in shaping your own experience. Our Force Support Squadron offers incredibly affordable trips to explore the local area and surrounding cities such as Washington DC, Philadelphia, and New York City. Professional organizations, including the Airman’s Council, Five/Six, the Top Three, and the Company Grade Officer Council offer an opportunity to interact with others from different career fields and fellowship amongst peers. Volunteer organizations abound in Dover to help those in need. Not only is this an opportunity to work side by side with members of our community, but it allows us to give back to the city that always welcomes our Airmen with open arms.
I could write an entire base paper’s worth of amazing vignettes about our incredible Airmen, tremendous spouses in our Key Spouse program and the Dover Spouse Club, and the outstanding support we receive from the Dover community.
Dr. Seuss, in his book Oh the Places You’ll Go!, writes, “You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away! You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” I am hopeful your Dover Experience is rewarding and you are on course to making this the experience you've hoped for! If it isn't yet, then I challenge you to go make it what you want it to be.