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NEWS | July 6, 2011

Charleston has come of age

By Col. Martha Meeker Joint Base Charleston commander

This is a bittersweet moment as I get ready to pass off the flag and step down as the first Joint Base Commander at Charleston. However, I do so knowing the 628th Air Base Wing and Joint Base Charleston has come of age in the last 18 months and there will be great folks who remain to take the watch behind me. It has been a tremendous experience, and nowhere but Charleston would you find such a quality mix of active duty, Reserve, Department of Defense civilian and contract personnel all supported by a great community. I'd like to especially thank the men and women of the 628th who gave me the honor of their trust and loyalty as we stepped out into this new endeavor.

And what an endeavor it has been over the last 18 months. First, we brought men and women together from more than 26 different agencies here in the Low Country to form the 628th. We then stepped out to serve more than 79,000 military members and their families and now support the DoD's crown jewel in both transportation and technology. And we've done it all in a one-of-a-kind community which now boasts back-to-back college baseball world championships ... go Gamecocks!

So how did we make this merger of Air Force and Navy a success? Simply speaking, we have the best people you could ever hope for, people who've made this military the best it has ever been. And it will get even better as our folks continue to shine. Folks like Staff Sgt. Chris Fite who has deployed multiple times in the last nine years and has supported not only the Air Force but the Army's 10th Mountain Division and the 2nd Marines as well. Folks like Chief Warrant Officer John Wilson who has spent 13 of his 23 years in the Navy at sea and is now overseeing all our waterborne security for this Joint Base. Tech. Sgt. Clifford Hartley is another who represents our best as he's been out with Army Brigade Combat teams on more than 150 door-to-door searches capturing 30 Taliban fighters. And, if you haven't read about the great things our medical folks are doing today to bring fighters like Sergeant Hartley home alive, then go find Lt. Col. Rebekah Friday and she'll tell you what our Medical Group brings to the fight. Right now the 628th has more than 16 percent of our active duty members deployed down range fighting this nation's wars, and they are all fantastic Airmen. For those who remain at home, they stand next to our phenomenal civilian employees such as Glen Easterby, Linda Miller, Tara Fuller and Kathy Knichel, forming the backbone of this installation as they work overtime to ensure this weapon system we call "Joint Base Charleston" meets the needs of all our residents.

Why do they all do this? Because I believe the American spirit is uniquely driven to do its best, to pitch in to serve a greater good, and this is especially true of our military. Why do you think we speak of ourselves as being in the service? No matter whether you are in the 628th serving more than 50 military partners, or the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Atlantic delivering communications services to our forces overseas or the 437th, 315th or 841st delivering mine resistant ambush protected vehicles to Afghanistan, your military is dedicated to serving this great nation. It's why the motto of the 628th is "Famulus Omnis" or "Serving All." Rest assured the men and women who remain at Joint Base Charleston will continue to make this military ever better. I'm leaving you in good hands.