62nd AW commander expresses gratitude to community

Support makes McChord Airmen feel welcome

By Commentary by Col. Wyn Elder, 62nd Airlift Wing commander on October 25, 2012

Since my arrival to McChord Field in June of 2011, I have seen nothing but tremendous respect and continued dedication for our Airmen, our families, and our mission and I want to take this opportunity to say "Thank You" to the local community.    

More than 10,200 active-duty, Reserve, Air National Guard and civilian personnel make up the main body of McChord Field.  Additionally, approximately 30,000 military retirees make their home in the Puget Sound area. The Air Force footprint for this area is quite sizeable and you have made a lasting impact on us.

Certainly your regular participation at large events such as our Air Force Ball, RODEO and Air Expo are critical to our success, but far more important is the daily interaction you have with our Airmen and their families that matters the most.

Eighty-five percent of our Airmen live off base - in your communities, and whether it is meeting them upon their return from a deployment or simply a conversation with them in your neighborhoods, that is what they appreciate.

They have the same interests and concerns as you do, ranging from education, traffic and freedoms to public concerns and emergency services.  Your community is our community.  Simply put, we couldn't be successful without the support provided by you and the other dedicated members of the community!

As we evolved from McChord Air Force Base to becoming an integral part of Joint Base Lewis-McChord and continue to solidify that transition, it is the local communities that have been the "rock" for us through this turbulent time.

You have opened your arms up to our Airmen and our families and you have welcomed them in to your communities, making them feel like the Pacific Northwest is home.

Our unique Air Force culture and heritage has been celebrated here in the local areas for over 65 years, starting with the arrival of the 62nd Troop Carrier Wing, Aug. 15, 1947.

From sponsoring burger burns for our units to ensuring families are supplied with a Thanksgiving turkey or ham, the community contributions continue to be everlasting.   

Most of the Airmen have been at war since they day they entered the service, and it's important that they feel safe and appreciated in their local communities.  I've been fortunate to serve in the Air Force for more than 22 years, and I've never been stationed anywhere with such a generous, welcoming and safe community for our Airmen.

Thank you for treating us like one of you own and thanks for all you do for the Airmen and families of McChord Field!