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Wing commander commends neighbors

Col. Currin says area involvement is a key to strong morale in chamber talk

Col. Scovill W. Currin, Jr. addressed the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber Military Affairs Forum. Photo credit: Joint Base Lewis-McChord

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Listening to Col. Scovill W. Currin, Jr., the importance and immensity of the mission at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) quickly became clear. The commander of the base's 62nd Airlift Wing also stressed how the community surrounding the base plays a vital role in morale.

The charismatic colonel did so with a blend of seriousness and humor at Wednesday's Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Forum.

"As you might be able to tell," the native South Carolinian said with a slight drawl. "I'm not originally from around here."

A round of laughter from the attendees set the tone for Currin's informal talk, which served both as an introduction of himself to the regional business community and as a great reminder of JBLM's vital role in our national defense and humanitarian aid efforts around the world.

"Our folks are as likely to offer a helping hand as to show a fist," he explained.

Currin arrived in May at JBLM, where he also serves as the U.S. Air Force Senior Service Component Commander, representing the interests of some 7,000 Total Force airmen to the Joint Base Partnership Council and the Pacific Northwest region.

Currin said he has been married to his wife, Lisa, for 16 years. Their two children, Tessa, 11, and Luke, 8, attend public school on base.

"I want my airmen to get to know my family, and I want my family to get to know them," said Currin, further noting the importance of things like his daughter seeing women in the role of mechanic and pilot.

He then provided a timeline of famous missions flown out of McChord Field over the years, from the World War II era Berlin Airlift in 1942, to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, and missions in Yemen in 2015. Ongoing frontline resupply in Syria and combat airdrops in Afghanistan are now primary missions.

In fact, said Currin, JBLM "is the epicenter for air mobility focus" in the military.

Flight crews from JBLM helped with evacuation efforts following the 2015 Nepal earthquake and with hurricane relief in 2017. Offering fresh-baked cookies to children in evacuation zones is just one example Currin offered of the humanitarian aspect of service.

"That love, that sense of compassion is really what sets our airmen apart," Currin said proudly. "It's that sense of selfless service."

"They are a part of something special," Currin said of his airmen. "You can sense it." That stems from JBLM's history and ongoing strategic importance.

A graduate of the Citadel and an active pilot himself, today, Currin ensures the readiness of more than 2,400 active-duty military and civilian personnel at JBLM, as well as the 48 permanently assigned C-17 Globemaster III aircraft stationed here.

And as provider of the Prime Nuclear Airlift Forces, Currin explained, the 62nd Air Wing is the only division tasked with transporting nuclear weapons by the Department of Defense. "We have specially trained and certified technicians to move, load, strap down and deliver these weapons," Currin said. "It's a strenuous, meticulous process."

He noted that while 25 percent of the military's C-17s are based here, his crews fly 50 percent of the missions required of the craft. "We still punch above our weight with our workload," he said.

While being responsible for moving nuclear weapons around the world can no doubt be stressful, Currin said recruiting and keeping qualified staff is a cinch with JBLM's reputation as a quality station. Having been stationed around the country during his career, he personally appreciates how good we have it here.

"We try to get off base whenever we can," Currin noted of his own family. Aside from the natural beauty, recreation and cultural opportunities available in the region, he said, it's the welcoming people that make a difference.

"To you in the local community, I just want to thank you," Currin said. 

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