NEWS | Nov. 1, 2018

A/TA symposium allows JBC Airmen to 'reconnect, recharge, re-blue'

By 2nd Lt. Alejandra Fontalvo Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Mobility Airmen from Joint Base Charleston gathered at the 2018 Air Mobility Command and Airlift/Tanker Association Symposium at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas, Oct. 25-28.

The annual convention brings together leadership, industry experts, civic leaders and Airmen from around the globe to discuss opportunities and challenges facing the country as well as AMC. For the approximately 60 Team Charleston members selected to attend, it also provided valuable opportunities for professional development, networking and self-reflection.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for younger Airmen to hear the words from our leadership,” said TSgt Mitchell Thompson, 16th Airlift Squadron loadmaster and A/TA General Dutch Huyser Award recipient. “We had the Chief of Staff, the Chief Master Sgt. Of the Air Force and the commander of AMC telling their perspectives on the future of the Air Force and how we have been accomplishing the mission.”

However, attendees at this year’s event didn’t just listen to the speeches given; Airmen and commanders from JB Charleston embraced the opportunity to ask questions directly to top military leadership, one of whom was the 437th Airlift Wing commander, Col. Clint ZumBrunnen.

“One of the biggest takeaways was the consistency of our senior leaders’ collective messaging,” said ZumBrunnen. ”We need to grow our force to fit the demands on it and we need to be ready to move through contested environments. I enjoyed hearing our senior leaders articulate those messages in memorable ways and hearing Airmen from our wings talk about what they heard.”

In addition, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein, opened his address at the conference with a message to the attendees and especially young leaders to use the event to “reconnect, recharge, and re-blue”.

 “Attending an event like this connects Non-Commissioned Officers and Company-Grade Officers to the big picture, while also allowing them to reconnect with friends from other bases,” said ZumBrunnen. “Such experiences broaden one’s perspective and build a sense of pride and purpose.”

For Thompson, whose achievements allowed him to represent the 437th AW at the AMC level, not only felt that sense of pride, but appreciated the reconnecting and networking aspect of the conference as well.

“It was really fun talking with all the other award winners and seeing where they came from and hearing about their jobs,” said Thompson. “Also getting to meet up with my friend who is one of the coordinators in the registration office. I only get to see him every once in a while, so it was really great hanging out with him again.”

This year, the premier professional development event garnered about 900 Airmen from across AMC for the Airlift/Tanker Association’s 50th anniversary since its inception in 1968. The growth of the organization as well as the Air Force’s progress and innovation was clear for all to see.

“It’s great to see how big of a community we have in the Air Force,” said 1st Lt. Aaron Clinton-Earl, 628th Logistics Readiness Squadron assistant installation deployment officer. “Our leadership and their vision have the Air Force going in a great direction.”

While AMC and Air Force aim to improve processes, quality of service and innovation, several leaders joined to praise the Airmen who contribute daily to those objectives.

“Look around the room,” said Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul J. Selva. “You are all extraordinary. The work you do every day helps us define this nation. There isn’t a single place that you won’t go; there isn’t any place you can’t take us that allows us to do our mission. Everything that defines mobility is defined by you.”