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CSAF reaffirms importance and value of all airmen

General Mark A. Welsh III, Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force disembarks from his aircraft on Feb 17, 2015 at Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H. Welsh visited the base to speak to Airmen and community leaders as well as discuss the base’s next aircraft, the KC-46 Pegasus.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz)

General Mark A. Welsh III, Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force disembarks from his aircraft on Feb 17, 2015 at Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H. Welsh visited the base to speak to Airmen and community leaders as well as discuss the base’s next aircraft, the KC-46 Pegasus. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz)

Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force General Mark A. Welsh III speaks to enlisted Airmen during an enlisted call at on Feb 17, 2015 at Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H. Welsh visited the base to speak to Airmen and community leaders as well as discuss the base’s next aircraft, the KC-46 Pegasus.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz/RELEASED)

Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force General Mark A. Welsh III speaks to enlisted Airmen during an enlisted call at on Feb 17, 2015 at Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H. Welsh visited the base to speak to Airmen and community leaders as well as discuss the base’s next aircraft, the KC-46 Pegasus. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz/RELEASED)

Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force General Mark A. Welsh III speaks to enlisted Airmen during an enlisted call at on Feb 17, 2015 at Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H. Welsh visited the base to speak to Airmen and community leaders as well as discuss the base’s next aircraft, the KC-46 Pegasus.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz/RELEASED)

Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force General Mark A. Welsh III speaks to enlisted Airmen during an enlisted call at on Feb 17, 2015 at Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H. Welsh visited the base to speak to Airmen and community leaders as well as discuss the base’s next aircraft, the KC-46 Pegasus. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz/RELEASED)

PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, NH -- Get to know the airmen around you - at a moment's notice any of them could become the most important to the U.S. Air Force's mission.

That was a key message relayed by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III during a February 17 all call to thank airmen of the 157th Air Refueling Wing.

"Never forget how critically important you are to this unit, the air national guard, the Air Force and this nation," he said, standing in front of a KC-135 tanker. "Some days you will be the most important person. On other days, the airman next to you is going to carry you."

Welsh highlighted his message in a conversation with Airman 1st Class Katelyn Spencer, a commander support staff member of the 157 Logistics Readiness Squadron. He reminded Spencer that she could serve as a key link to ensuring airmen get out the door for deployments necessary to defending the country.

"(Welsh) reminded us how important we are even at the lower ranks," said Spencer, who enlisted in June 2013 and finished her technical training seven months ago. "He let us know that the guard plays a big role and that we matter."

The all call was part of a day long visit to Pease. The base has served as a successful model for the Air Force's Total Force Integration initiative and is slated to receive the KC-46 air refueling tanker in late 2018. The 157 ARW is also the most recent recipient of the Major General Stanley Newman Award, which recognizes the Air National Guard's outstanding wing or group contributing to the overall success of the Air Mobility Command.

"You should be proud of the unit you represent and you should of the job you do," said Welsh. "You have no idea how proud I am of you."

Col. Rob Burrus, 157 wing commander, said it was an honor to host Welsh and believed the visit was a tribute to the important work done by Airmen at the Wing.

"He understands the unique relationship we have with the total force and our active duty partners in the 64th Air Refueling Squadron," said Burrus. "His message of recognizing our Airmen's accomplishments resonates with me personally and it should resonate with all of our Airmen equally."

Following Welsh's remarks, he fielded questions from active duty and guard Airmen pertaining to training issues, funding concerns, cyber security and more. Welsh challenged all Airmen to be forward thinkers and put forth ideas to solve problems locally and Air Force wide - a major of initiative of the Air Force.

"No one knows your job and your day-to-day mission better than you," said Welsh. "We should be listening to you."

Welsh noted that the key to tackling almost any issue Air Force wide will be through improved communication and airmen taking the time to learn more about their counterparts, a lesson he said he learned while serving as commander of the 8th Fighting Wing, Kunsan Air Base, South Korea.

"If you don't know their story, you can't lead the Airmen," he said.

Before departing, Welsh took the opportunity to reaffirm his belief in the value of all airmen with a message to Spencer and the airmen around her. 

"We have known each other for an hour, but I'd die for you," said Welsh. "I am just naive to believe if it mattered you'd do the same for me.

"That is what makes us different. It is a commitment that everyone in here in this room has made."
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