By Chief Master Sgt. Rita Jones , 117th Force Support Squadron
/ Published February 20, 2013
Birmingham, Ala. -- Since September 11, 2001, all members of the 117th Air Refueling Wing have shown a never ending commitment to fulfilling the mission in the nation's fight against terrorism, knowing that the lives of all military personnel have changed forever. On September 11, 2001, our once peaceful nation came under attack and our freedom was threatened. Here we are eleven years later still continuing to fulfill our daily mission, which now includes the Wing's 24/7/365 alert mission, continuous AEF taskings, and backfill taskings for our unit members, which includes members assigned to the 117th Air Refueling Wing, 99th Air Refueling Squadron, and the 117th Intelligence Squadron.
During the period of uncertainty, members of the 117th have exhibited the Air Force core values on a daily basis. Integrity - doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason. Service before self - working countless hours, taking care of unit personnel issues, unnoticed by others. Excellence in all we do - doing the job to the best of our ability.
Above all, we must not forget that our greatest strength and asset is our people, and that all members of the 117th Air Refueling Wing, the 99th Air Refueling Squadron, and 117th Intelligence Squadron are equally important as each of us perform our jobs with personal pride and dedication to the Wing, the State, and the Nation. With the addition of our associate unit, the 99th Air Refueling Squadron, we have gained approximately 125 members. The members are qualified active duty members from locations around the world, primarily in operations and maintenance specialties, with a few support positions. Some of the members have been here long enough to be PCSing to new assignments around the world. It takes all of us working cohesively as a team to accomplish the multitude of actions that the Wing is tasked with to be successful. Together we can become stronger by sharing all of our experience and training.
The 117th Air Refueling Wing has always excelled when the challenges are the greatest. One of the biggest accomplishments of "Team Birmingham" was the efforts exerted to overcome the BRAC recommendation to shut down flying operations in Birmingham. Since then, we have excelled in ORIs, UCIs, and NORIs. Currently, the Wing is preparing for the upcoming AMC IG Operational Readiness Inspection in June 2014 with many new members who have not experienced an inspection. I feel certain that with the professional members of this unit, we will never fail as a team. With the number of retirements within the next five years, it is crucial to the continued success of this great unit to teach and mentor our younger members to excel in their positions and share our experience with each of them. Our legacy will be exhibited by the strength of our unit after our retirements. We should all feel a great sense of pride in the fact that we are members of the best Air Refueling Wing in the Nation; a true World Class Organization.