Ripples in a big pond

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Scott Hayes
  • 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron
I have the distinct honor of commanding the 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, the only complete Reserve unit on base. As a 13-year member and current commander of our home unit, the 357th Airlift Squadron, 908th Airlift Wing, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., I believe I know my unit members very well. The relationships I share with my fellow Airmen empower me to lead in such an overwhelmingly-challenging environment.

My first contact with the Grand Slam Wing began more than five years ago, on my third deployment to the area of responsibility, but first to our location here in Southwest Asia. We were an amazing airlift machine back then, churning out sorties with two squadrons, one reserve and one active duty. It was a dizzying puzzle of 16-hour days, 12 hours of crew rest, and repeat ad nauseum. The days passed quickly because the operations tempo never slowed, but you always felt like you were part of this amazing team that was critical to the war effort.

Since my arrival in May, the incredible teamwork that has transformed this base, and doubled the populace from '05, has made an amazing impact on me and my fellow Airmen. From the new dining facility, the BPC area, the new Combined Air Operations Center, and now the new Fox Sports Sky Box, we are constantly witnessing inter-agency and host nation teams building and improving every aspect of base living.

The improvements directly contribute to the war effort by increasing the morale, and therefore the production, of Airmen throughout the wing.

The singular improvement with the greatest impact on my unit's morale is unquestionably wireless Internet. My Airmen regularly comment on the benefit of unrestricted contact with their families and friends, and their positive attitudes are a direct result. The complaint compartment workload is thereby dramatically reduced. Once again, our Airmen directly benefit from the exemplary teamwork that makes this base so special.

So where do we fit in? What can one small group of reservists from Alabama contribute to the Grand Slam Wing? I am glad you asked, because I am a big believer in building bridges and that is the cornerstone to effective teambuilding. We fit in by flying our Air Tasking Order taskings and completing our missions in spite of mechanical, environmental and hostile conditions. We have lunch with our brethren from the Air Mobility Division to put a name to a face and find our common ground, so when taskings and capabilities are in conflict, we can resolve it in a professional manner. We fit in by volunteering to escort Air Force Academy cadets who unexpectedly need a chaperone on a tour. We fit in by pick'n and grin'n at the smoke hut because a little "Sweet Home Alabama" can change your bad day to a good day.

In conclusion, I want to reiterate what an honor it is to serve with you as Citizen Airmen and part of the Grand Slam Wing. The amazing teamwork we witness and participate in is the direct result of dedicated professionals who truly want to make the wing better every day. So with every handshake and "HOWSURMOMNEM?" we can make a little ripple in the big pond!