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NEWS | Oct. 24, 2012

Strong foundations lead to strong mission performance

By Col. Darren Hartford 437th Airlift Wing commander

It's been three weeks since I've had the honor of assuming command of the 437th Airlift Wing and I can honestly say I've never been more impressed!

From the beginning, Team Charleston and the Lowcountry have welcomed me and my wife Tina, as well as our children Cameron and Matthew, as if we've been here all along. We are truly grateful for your warm hospitality and look forward to expanding our military family as we get to meet and work with many more of you in the weeks and months to come.

Any new commander must embrace the history of his organization if he hopes to successfully carry the flag through current and future challenges. The history of the 437th AW is certainly impressive. From the skies over Normandy Beach during Operation OVERLORD in World War II to the drop zones and airfields of Afghanistan today, the patriots of the 437th AW have overcome countless challenges and served their nation admirably. I am proud to carry on this tradition of excellence.

Fortunately, we've had some great partners throughout the years to help us achieve our successes. I'm excited to work with our Joint Base mission partners, Col. Richard McComb and the 628th Air Base Wing and Col. Jamie Fontanella and the 315th Airlift Wing, as we face and conquer the challenges of tomorrow. Our strong relationship has been and will continue to be crucial to our mission accomplishment.

The mutual achievements of Team Charleston are a direct result of our robust partnership and I am honored to continue our great relationship. As a quick recap of those accomplishments, in the last year, the men and women of Team Charleston have provided precious life-sustaining supplies to our most frontline troops, brought humanitarian cargo to less fortunate nations, executed numerous lifesaving aeromedical evacuation missions, and on too many occasions, held the highest honor of returning our fallen comrades back to the United States. Be proud of what you've accomplished in the past as we work together towards improving the future.

As we look forward, the mission of the 437th AW will not change.

Simply stated, we will continue to fix, fill and fly airplanes whenever and wherever our customers need it. In my view, people are the foundation of mission success. We must work together to build strong foundations of personal and professional competence and build on the strong bonds of the Air Force family to help us accomplish our mission. To achieve this, I want to stress a renewed focus on our people in line with Gen.Raymond Johns' and Chief Master Sergeant Richard Kaiser's recent memorandum highlighting Comprehensive Airman Fitness. CAF is a holistic approach to caring, developing and guaranteeing the success of our Airmen and their families both on and off duty. Fundamentally strong Airmen bring about mission success and Team Charleston's mission will only be successful with a resilient Air Force family. As we're looking out for our Airmen, we must focus on their families as they are the cornerstone of the solid foundation. Together, we will promote a culture of caring, increase a sense of belonging, and empower our team to grow physically, socially, mentally and spiritually.

Again, I'd like to thank everyone for the warm welcome. I look forward to working with all of you as we carry on the great tradition of excellence of the 437th AW and Team Charleston.