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NEWS | June 23, 2009

Wow! What a Ride It's Been! Can We Do It Again?


When I first arrived at Andrews for my assignment as the 316th Wing vice commander, my predecessor, Col. Jenni Hesterman, gave me a pair of running shoes and said, "put these on because you won't stop running until you leave." Boy was she right! As you read this, I have already accomplished my turn over with my replacement, Col. Lee dePalo, and I am headed off on another Air Force adventure. It truly has been an amazing two years! I am proud of where we have been, and excited about where the 316 WG and Team Andrews is headed.

I thought I would use this article to provide a little perspective on what I have seen and experienced over the last two years. I inprocessed the week of the Joint Service Open house in May 2007. The 316 WG was one month away from celebrating its first year as the installation host, and one might think that the air show was the first time the 316th would have to orchestrate a big event. This was actually not the case. In fact, only a few months before, the 316th was first put on the world stage when everyone spent their Christmas vacation planning for and then paying respect and honor to former President Gerald Ford during his state funeral. This was my first exposure to the 316 WG; watching the ceremony on TV.

As I walked the ramp that first weekend of the Joint Service Open House air show, I was struck by the dedication and teamwork, not only by 316 WG personnel, but by all of Team Andrews. It was a great introduction to the mission focus that would define each major event I would experience during my assignment. I learned quickly that there were many things the 316 WG had on its plate.

Air Force District of Washington as a Headquarters was in their final phase of moving from Bolling to Andrews. We were in the process of working out the final details of a 50-year housing privatization leasing agreement, which would forever change the housing landscape at Andrews. We have recently opened the first phase of homes, and the housing community center is not far behind.

Other big events that have taken place and put Andrews on the world stage have been Pope Benedict XVI's arrival and departure, a G-20 Leaders Summit that had leaders from around the world coming to Washington through Andrews for an economic crisis meeting, and last January's Presidential Inauguration and former president's farewell departure ceremony.

Each time, members from Team Andrews came together to get the mission done in exceptional fashion. Oh yes, did I mention we pulled off an additional two Joint Service Open Houses in perfect style?

I know I have left off many other major happenings on Andrews, but my point behind all this is that we have done all these things and we are only getting ready to celebrate our 3rd anniversary. I bring up how young our organization is because I believe it is important to recognize how much has been done in such a short period of time.

So, now it must be time to "catch up" and "normalize" the wing right? ... Nice try. There are so many more projects still in the works. Look around base and you see there are some huge projects that will be coming on line over the next few years ... a new Visitors' Quarters, a new building for the Air National Guard Readiness Center, a Strategic Planning and Development Facility, a new Base Realignment and Closure Administrative building, a new Shopette, new temporary lodging facility, and the privatized housing project will continue through its initial development period where homes will be torn down and replaced with new or others will be renovated. Andrews is a busy and exciting place, and it is Airman like each and every one of you that will continue to get the mission done.

During my farewell dinner, I said that this assignment has been a true rollercoaster ride. Most might have assumed I was alluding to the "ups and downs" of a rollercoaster, but they would be far from correct.

My view of a rollercoaster is that it is a ride filled with anticipation followed by exhilaration; momentary pauses with some twists and turns followed by the next big event; and in the end, the ride goes by way too quickly and you always want to do it again. The most fun part of a rollercoaster ride is the people you go on the ride with and if they were strangers at the beginning, you share a common bond of friendship in the end. One day, you know you will be back in that line with some of those same people ready to go on another ride.

My assignment at Andrews has been an incredible ride. It has been fun not because of all the events that have taken place over the last two years but because of the people that I have shared this ride with. Whether you are new to the base or have been here for several years, I challenge you to get involved and volunteer to be part of the many events that only happen at Andrews.