You guys rock

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Steven Vautrain
  • 439th Airlift Wing, Commander
Two-thousand thirteen was a hard year for the Patriot Wing, but we pulled together and overcame every obstacle. The furloughs, the government shutdown, and reduced funding did not hold you back from being Leaders in Excellence.

The outstanding performance of the wing was recognized by the Reserve Command many times during the past year. We garnered many unit and individual awards. Westover was selected by AFRC as the nominee for the Commander-in-Chief Annual Award for Installation Excellence for the second year in a row. The icing on the cake was the excellent rating the wing received during the CUI in August. The AFRC/IG said it all when he stated, "There were more strengths in this wing than we normally see....this is a wonderful wing doing a wonderful job for our country, your reputation preceded don't see this every day. You guys rock."

Westover continues to play an important part in the defense of our nation. Our many distinguished visitor tours in 2013 highlighted the importance of our mission and our people. Senator Warren visited in February, Congressman Neal in April and June, a group of 19 Massachusetts state legislators in April, the Commander and Command Chief of AFRC in June, and the Acting Secretary of the Air Force in July. They were all impressed with the professionalism and dedication displayed by our Airmen and civilians during their visits. All of them left Westover with a greater appreciation for what we do and had nothing but great things to say about the entire wing.

In November, wing vice commander Col. Jeff Hancock briefed staffers from the presidentially-appointed National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force about Westover's strengths and potential for future expansion. The staffers were impressed with the size of our base, the numerous awards won by our organizations, and our "tremendous community support." The NCSAF will submit its report to the President of the United States and Congressional defensecommittees by Feb. 1. They will recommend whether, and how, the structure should be modified to best fulfill current and anticipated mission requirements. It's good to know that Westover's voice will be represented in the report.

This year promises to be another year of challenges. We face a reduced budget, a new Air Force Inspection System, and a new AEF rotation system (AEF Next). Some relief is expected from the effects of sequestration, but money will remain tight in 2014. Mission readiness and training will remain our priorities as we continue to be a combat-ready, cost-effective, and experienced force with operational capability, strategic depth, and surge capacity. We'll face the challenges of 2014 as a team, and I am certain that we will continue to prove that we are the best. Thank you for your service to our community and our country. You are truly Leaders in Excellence.