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12th AF commander receives firsthand look at ISR mission

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. N.B.
  • 432nd Wing, 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
The Hunters of the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing welcomed the 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) commander, Lt. Gen. Tod D. Wolters during a two-day visit Jan. 13-14.

The visit gave the commander the opportunity to meet the Airmen who perform the Air Force's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission flying remotely piloted aircraft.

"It's a privilege and an honor to be standing in front of you today, the men and women of the 432nd Wing," said Wolters. "I'm impressed with the quality and exceptional performance of all of you."

He explained that the Air Force is an institution that never stops caring about one another, and that commitment begins with developing the best leaders we can.

Wolters encouraged leaders to exercise analog leadership by getting out, talking to Airmen, and asking the tough questions in order to help solve problems.

Wolters challenged Airmen to take care of each other and shared the story of Master Sgt. Gonzo Gonzalez, who passed away in October 2013 when his aircraft crashed during a mission overseas.

Gonzalez was responsible for preventing more than $9 billion of cocaine from hitting the streets of America during his career. Today, his family shares that their closest Air Force friends are like family.

"If things go bad and the environment isn't perfect, [the Air Force] will go to the ends of the earth to fix the environment and find a way to ensure it doesn't happen again," said Wolters. "This is a great enterprise to be a part of."

Wolters also took time during his visit to discuss some of the biggest challenges facing the Air Force today, like sexual assault and suicide.

"You have two choices for the remainder of your time in the service: you can ignore the problem and therefore become a part of it; or you can be part of the solution," he said. "We have to fix the environment."

Col. James Cluff, 432nd Wing/432nd AEW commander, explained that visits like these help remind Airmen of the important role they play in today's Air Force.

"It's important that Airmen understand the roles they play in not only their futures but also in the future of the greatest Air Force the world has ever known," said Cluff. "When visitors like Gen. Wolters come here, it helps our Airmen realize that everyone from the top to the bottom plays a key role in helping solve these issues."

The visit left a lasting impression on the wing's newest and youngest Airman.

"General Wolters' all-call really helped to put things into perspective. Stopping problems like suicide or sexual assault starts with each and every Airman," said Airman 1st Class Christian, 432nd Wing Public Affairs photojournalist. "We all play a part in making the Air Force the greatest it can be regardless of what our duty title is."

Christian continued on to say he had learned a valuable lesson during his first duty day in the operational Air Force, one that he will strive to teach others during his career.

Wolters concluded his visit by also reiterating the importance of the Air Force's ISR mission and the work 432nd Wing Airmen do every day.

"It's an honor to continue to serve with you," said Wolters. "I can comfortably say I pity the enemy because if they have to fight you, they're just going to lose."