Iceman One weighs in
By Brig. Gen. Mark Graper, 354th Fighter Wing Commander
/ Published August 28, 2007
EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
Fellow Icemen, let me begin by thanking you for an amazing welcome! The change of command ceremony you put on was superb--honoring to our Wing and to the heritage of the profession of arms. Melinda and I are thankful for your efforts and humbled by your warm reception.
More than 10 years ago we had the privilege of serving at Elmendorf AFB, one of our most memorable and rewarding tours, and now we're thankful to have the opportunity for another Alaskan assignment, this time as part of Team Eielson in the Interior of the Great Land.
The 354th has a proud tradition of excellence thanks to the professional, hard-working Airmen, civilians, families and community leaders that support it. I salute the effective and dynamic servant leadership Brig. Gen. Dave and Lisa Scott provided the Wing and am honored to follow in their footsteps. I look forward to building on the reputation of peerless professionalism, outstanding service and unrivaled community partnership that characterize the Wing.
I think of our Wing's future in terms of Mission, Airmen and Teamwork.
Mission: Our mission is multi-faceted and in transition. In terms of flying, fixing and supporting, we continue our transition from the classic fighter mission of deploying overseas to put bombs on-target, on-time to providing world class air combat training to U.S. and allied air warriors via Red Flag-Alaska and the newly established 18th Aggressor Squadron. We will also put renewed emphasis on our capability to deploy and to receive forces in order to enable the "air bridge," i.e., the flow of aircraft, people and equipment across the northern Pacific Rim in support of a contingency in Asia. As always, we'll fill expeditionary taskings to other theaters.
Airmen: Airmen and their families are our center of gravity. A top priority for leaders at all levels is to develop trained, professional, resilient Airmen who are ready to accomplish our mission here at Eielson and deployed. Similarly, family readiness and well-being is a paramount concern. In that regard, we'll complete and initiate quality of life projects that are vital in our arctic operating environment.
Teamwork: As you all know, wars are won by teams, not individuals, and we'll accomplish our mission and develop our Airmen through teamwork within the Wing, with our National Guard and Army teammates, and with our community partners. We're especially privileged to have a community so supportive of the military. I particularly want to thank the Fairbanks North Star Borough for your valuable and ever-vigilant support of Interior Alaska's military and family members. I look forward to building on that great friendship.
Once again, Melinda and I thank you for the wonderful welcome and for your invaluable service to this great nation. Each of you has cemented Team Eielson's position at the "top of the world," and I am honored to lead this fine wing as it soars toward the future!