MIDDLETOWN, Pa. --
U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, visited the 193rd Special Operations Wing June 9-10 to share his vision and gather insight into the capabilities and unique dynamics of the Air National Guard unit here.
The general immersed himself in the wing’s June drill early Saturday, beginning with a discussion with top wing leaders, followed by a base tour and an “All Call” with wing Airmen.
Webb first met with wing group commanders and chiefs, while Col. Mike Cason, 193rd Special Operations Wing commander, provided the general with an overview of the wing, highlighting wing priorities and how they align with AFSOC’s.
“We’re always grateful for the opportunity to demonstrate to Air Force leaders our relevancy and the important work our Airmen do here and around the world,” Cason said. “We prize these face-to-face moments with leaders like Lt. Gen. Webb because we gain valuable insight on how we can do even more to bolster readiness and prepare for the years ahead. We look forward to continuing the conversation.”
The general echoed Cason’s sentiments. “This wing has a long history with (AFSOC), and I appreciate the work that is being done.”
Chiefs at the wing got the chance to collaborate with Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Smith, command chief master sergeant of Air Force Special Operations Command, who accompanied Webb on the trip.
While touring the base, Webb met with three members of the deployed air ground response element team at the 193rd Special Operations Security Forces Squadron. Tech. Sgt. Justin Rhinehart, a security forces specialist with the 193rd SOSFS, showed Webb parts of a deployment package and discussed current training.
“It was outstanding that we got to see our boss’s boss, knowing that when we’re doing the mission to the best of our ability, the right people are seeing our hard work,” said Rhinehart.
Staff Sgt. Shawn Kobel, a 193rd SOSFS security forces specialist, demonstrated for the general how troops wear and operate the op-score helmet. These helmets are relatively new to the unit and include earmuffs and a radio, as well as nighttime and thermal vision.
At the 193rd Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron, Webb spoke with Tech. Sgt. David Martin, a load planner with the 193rd SOLRS, about how wing Airmen play a key role in AFSOC’s Emerald Warrior Exercise every year.
“All of you got to experience the live aspect cargo part of the Emerald Warrior Exercise and your contribution played a key part,” Webb said to troops who recently returned from the exercise, run every year from AFSOC headquarters, Hurlburt Field, Florida.
A highlight of his trip, Webb got to man a wing EC-130J Commando Solo. He flew the aircraft to one of the wing’s tenant units, the 193rd Air Operations Group in State College, Pennsylvania, for a tour of that facility. Webb is a command pilot with more than 3,700 flying hours, including 117 combat hours in Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia.
Webb also hosted an “All Call” for base Airmen, where he shared AFSOC’s vision, mission and priorities. He spoke about AFSOC’s strategic value to the nation, highlighting the relevancy of the 193rd SOW and the impact the wing has on the total force.
During the event, Webb took questions from Airmen in attendance. At one point, the general was asked if he has a “go-to” saying or words of wisdom that he draws upon to help him overcome challenges.
“There is a way,” the general responded, referring to a Vietnam-era documentary by the same title. “If you embrace this mindset, you will be successful as a special operator.”
He continued, “As Guardsmen, I recognize that you face extra responsibilities and challenges. You want to serve … you are serving … you power through. I want you to know we appreciate you, and we recognize your massive contributions across the spectrum of contingencies.”
AFSOC CC recognizes wing Airmen for outstanding achievement
During an “All Call” for Guardsmen at the 193rd SOW June 10, Lt. Gen. Webb personally recognized six members of the wing for their outstanding efforts:
- Staff Sgt. Courtney Fisher, AFSOC Outstanding Air Reserve Component Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Airman of the Year;
- Tech. Sgt. Bessie Mort, AFSOC Outstanding Aircrew Training Civilian of the Year;
- Staff Sgt. Tyler Berger, outstanding U.S. Southern Operations Command Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness;
- Tech. Roann Leatz, Air Force Aviation Safety Well Done Award winner;
- Master Sgt. Jeff Boehmer, AFSOC Mobility Special Mission Aviator of the Year; and
- Katrina Sylvain, National Guard Bureau Regional Outstanding Director of Psychological Health of the Year.
The individuals were invited onto the stage and presented a coin from the general.