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437th commander says thanks and farewell

By Col. Johnny Lamontagne, commander | 437th AW | June 14, 2016

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. — Unfortunately for my family and me, our tour in the 437th Airlift Wing is coming to an end.  Just like our last two assignments in Charleston, we've thoroughly enjoyed it.  The past two years have flown by way too fast. 

During that time, you have never ceased to impress me.  Your focus on the mission is unmatched.  You provide safe, precise, and reliable airlift world-wide and you've accomplished it in an amazing fashion.  You launched/loaded/maintained/supported/flew almost 1,000 C-17 sorties a month for the past two years.  Let's digest that a little bit more.

Safe?  Absolutely!  There were no aircraft Class A or Class B mishaps caused by maintenance, loading or aircrew mistakes.  That's an outstanding safety record. 

Precise?  You better believe it!  You accomplished 285 home station checks, loaded 1,500 transient aircraft and transported more than 117 thousand passengers and 36 million tons of cargo.  We flew sorties to Haiti for Operation UNIFIED RESPONSE and airdropped ammunition and supplies directly into Iraq and Syria.  While we will never be absolutely perfect, each of these tasks were accomplished with incredible precision and in accordance with the technical orders.

Reliable?  I don't think you'll find anyone else AMC counts on to do what we do!  We've supported POTUS missions, moved the Vice President of the United States, the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, the CENTCOM Commander and the Secretary of State.  We led Exercise SWIFT RESPONSE, flew in Operation JADE HELM and Battalion Mass Tac Exercises.  We also played a significant role in All-American Week with our Annual Readiness Assessment... and that's just in the last three months.

You've also done a tremendous job of taking care of your fellow Airmen which include officers, enlisted and civilians.  Some days are long and demanding and we've got a lot of tough folks going through difficult times.  There is are many caring and compassionate commanders, chiefs, first sergeants, supervisors, friends and peers who go to incredible lengths to ensure those going through tough times survive and, ideally, thrive.  I hope that wingman culture never changes.

I also hope you've enjoyed your time at Charleston.  We've worked hard to create an environment where everyone can have fun while getting the job done.  Thanks to you--I've had a phenomenal time!  I know you're working hard and I hope you're having fun at the same time too. 

I'd like to thank all our mission partners that help us get our job done.  We simply couldn't do it without the support from the 628th Air Base Wing or the integration and collaboration with our long time partners in the 315th Airlift Wing.  Also, Boeing's expertise and mission focus are powerful multipliers.  We're lucky to live in such a military friendly community. 

Finally, thank you for your outstanding performance and commitment to both our mission and our Airmen.  I've had three tours at Charleston and, although I was tired every time I changed duty stations, it's very similar to the sports analogy... every time I was here, I left it all on the field.  While I may have been tired, I was also exceptionally proud... and I couldn't wait to come back.  That's how I feel today--a little tired, incredibly proud of you and, although it won't happen until retirement, I can't wait 'til I come back!

The best part about this farewell is you're gaining an amazing commander.  Colonel Jimmy Canlas is a world-class leader!  He's incredibly smart, sincerely compassionate and is focused on putting the team in the best position to succeed.  He's also an amazing friend and I'm very confident he and his wife, Joy, are going to lead Charleston to new heights.  Trust me, your best days are in front of you!  Thank you for what you do, the sacrifices you've made and for continuing to serve our great nation.