• Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Timothy C. White Jr.


Embarking upon a new year, I wanted to start by taking a few moments to reflect on our past and consider our future.

As we continue to ensure our Professional Development Center courses meet your professional needs, one particular focus area is the rich enlisted heritage of Reserve Citizen Airmen. We don’t study enlisted heritage so we can impress our friends and family on trivia nights. We don’t pass on stories about Airmen overcoming overwhelming odds to teach you to be timid in times of crisis. We teach you about the Airmen who came before you so you know the impossible can be done.

When the Air Force Reserve was established on April 14, 1948, our enlisted corps was 22,000 strong, comprising just over half the force. Today, there are more than 55,000 enlisted Reserve Citizen Airmen, comprising more than three quarters of the Air Force Reserve.

Since our inception, enlisted Airmen have made outsized contributions in every mission set. 

Reserve Citizen Airmen continue to lead in the area of innovation. Staff Sgt. Santosh Devkota, assigned to the 69th Aerial Port Squadron, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, was recently recognized as the 2020 winner of the Air Force’s General Larry O. Spencer Innovation Award for his work on the GATES software, developing an off-line rapid passenger check-in database while deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. His zero-cost solution dramatically improved the processing of passengers. 

We continue to make significant contributions in the aeromedical career field. Senior Airman Sacia Vieregge, an aeromedical evacuation technician from the 934th Airlift Wing, Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Station, Minnesota, was recently nominated for the Junior Enlisted Lance P. Sijan Leadership Award at the numbered Air Force level for her contributions while deployed to Ramstein Air Base, Germany.  She was part of a unit that transported COVID-19 positive military members from down range back to Ramstein to receive a higher echelon of care.

When our nation needs us, we continue to answer the call. With just over 48 hours notice, Tech. Sgt. Jodi Signer, a loadmaster assigned to the 446th Airlift Wing’s 313th Airlift Squadron, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, was in the air headed to help with evacuation efforts in Afghanistan. In the time the aircrew spent flying in and out of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, they moved troops, vulnerable Afghans and cargo out of the country to secondary locations. She flew six transport evacuation missions, three of which were into Kabul, and she was instrumental in evacuating just under 300 passengers and approximately 320,000 pounds of cargo over the span of the mission. She was just one of the Airmen who made up 73 crews and hundreds of maintenance, security, medical and support personnel. 

These are only a few examples of how you have carried on our heritage of an enlisted force that makes an outsized impact. 

Our heritage will continue to grow as we face new challenges. In our current era of strategic competition, we will be met with challenges that will only strengthen our legacy. We must continue to accelerate change and readiness in a predictable manner by developing the force we need. 

To that end, we continue to develop our Future Work Environment policy. The widespread effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic have accelerated our reform efforts, and the FWE is an important part of our effort to future-proof our work force and advance our agility and resiliency to meet current and future mission objectives. 

To be successful, we must incorporate FWE work-place agilities and flexibilities compatible with the next generation of employees and future operating environments. We are committed to retaining experienced Reserve Citizen Airmen with in-demand skills across all functional platforms, and our overall readiness depends on individual Airmen being able to effectively execute their mission while leveraging FWE capabilities.

The challenges of 2021 have reinforced the value of each individual Reserve Citizen Airman. You are responsible for the progress we have made toward achieving our strategic priorities. Over the past year, we faced extraordinary challenges. In this year, we will be faced with many more. I know we will continue to be ready when our nation needs us. 

I am extremely proud of each of you and honored to serve alongside you as your Command Chief.  ■