Lt. Gen. Maryanne Miller, Air Force Reserve Command commander, visited Joint Base Charleston, S.C. this weekend to meet with Citizen Airmen of the 315th Airlift Wing.
“I’m here so that you all can see me and to listen to what I’m thinking as I go through my day to day and as you go through your day, and how do we best prepare for a future that is unknown,” The general said.
“I think about you all the time” Miller told 315th AW Reservists. “Each one of you is in a different stage of your life.” She acknowledged that she realizes the various stresses Citizen Airmen face such as going to school, civilian jobs, and families.
“The first-termers are worried about their school, raising a family or starting a family and trying to settle life,” Miller said. “ The mid-term is where we lose most of our people in the Reserve because life just happens. A lot of things are happening as your kids grow up. When you get to be in the older group, like myself, you start to look back at all the stresses you faced at home and you say ‘You know, not bad.’”
As Citizen Airmen, she said “We are a diverse group. You all are awesome at balancing all your sometimes conflicting commitments.”
How ready are we?
Are we ready?
Next the general talked about how AFRC is preparing for future Pacific theater operations should the call come in. “Are we ready to go?” she asked while stressing the importance of having all recurring and new training requirements completed.
Miller said that she understands the frustrations Citizen Airmen have when they have to spend so much time in front of a computer on ADLS. “I go through the same training. I have to do everything that you have to do."
“That’s what we do when we’re in this,” the general said. “We have to be ready.”
“My whole focus when I go around to wing is, ‘Ok wing commanders, squadron commanders, flight commanders, LRS how ready are we?” Miller explained. “If we have 30 days—if we knew in 30 days that we’d be moving out, what would we be doing today? Do we have the money or the time to do that? No, not right now, but do we have the time to think about it? Oh yes, absolutely. Those are things we have to think about.”
“So as Airmen, if you knew you had 30 days what would you be doing?” Miller asked. “It involves a lot of thought, a lot table top, and asking the right questions about having the required equipment. Do we have what we need?”
“As a Reserve component we are a strategic asset, but you all know we’re living in an operational Reserve every day. As an asset for this country we’ve got to be ready.” Miller added.
We gotta make the cookies
“I didn’t know you all do the cookies,” Miller told a group of Airmen from the 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron.
In her earlier days as a Reserve pilot, the general told them about the first time she flew a plane with an AE team.
On an AES mission she was told they had to put the flag out. “What are you talking about?” She asked. The AE crew told her that when they have wounded brought on board they hang an American flag out from the end of the catwalk. “After the flag was hung, I asked what are we doing next?”
“‘We gotta make the cookies,” the AE team told her.
“Ok… Whatever you guys need to do,” Miller said. But after the flag was hung and the cookies were cooking, she said it all clicked for her.
“When they brought patients on up the ramp, they’d see the flag and smell the cookies,” Miller said as it all made sense to her.
“It was precious time for me,” the general said. “Spending time with AE in the back and seeing what you all do.”
“Each of you has your own story,” Miller said. “It’s a story that if we tried to share with the active component they would be blown away on how you live your life—what you do outside the uniform and what you do in the uniform. How do you tell the story? You do so much.”
Miller said that AE is uniquely motivated. “It’s not ever about the money; it’s about what you do in serving the country.”
“You all have a special place in my heart,” she said. “I cut my teeth as a pilot with you all. I know you are challenged. It’s challenging getting slots; it’s challenging holding the certificates that you have to maintain on the medical side with everything you have to do on the Air Force side. I honestly don’t see how you do it. On the pilot side we only have one set of things we have to worry about. You guys have two entirely different sets of things.”