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NEWS | March 2, 2016

Charleston is a Special Place

By Col. Scovill Currin, commander 437 OG

I grew up 45 minutes from Charleston and spent my entire childhood watching C-141s and C-17s glide across the sky on their way to North Field. As a cadet at the Citadel, those majestic airplanes, always a comforting reminder of home, passed overhead on their final approach into Charleston Air Force Base. I knew I was watching something unique, something special. But only now, after two assignments here in the Lowcountry, do I understand what it is:  We sit at the very epicenter of Air Mobility Command. If you want to be at the absolute leading edge of what mobility air forces are doing, you want to be at Charleston. It's been that way for decades.

When the Air Force first decided where to base the C-17, they chose Charleston. When they wanted to honor the last of those great airplanes to come off the assembly line, they chose Charleston. When the Air Mobility leaders were deciding where to house the only Special Operations C-17 mission, they chose Charleston. When the United States needed a high-altitude, combat airdrop of humanitarian supplies over Afghanistan on the opening night of Operation Enduring Freedom, they chose Charleston. When Air Mobility Command stood up the very first C-17 Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, they chose Charleston. When President Obama demanded action to prevent possible genocide in the mountains of Iraq during the ongoing battle against ISIS, he chose Charleston. And just three months ago, when US forces needed to airdrop 50 tons of ammunition to Syrian rebels, they chose Charleston.

Across the globe, Mobility Airmen fly over 500 sorties a day. For those most important sorties, the ones that absolutely cannot fail, our leadership has always chosen Charleston. That's why I've opened every Newcomer's Brief with a bold declaration -Welcome to the Greatest Airlift Wing and Joint Base on the planet. That's not false bravado or arrogance. It's simply the truth. There's just something special about Charleston, our Airmen and the work they do. You can feel it as soon as you enter the gates. There's an energy and contagious passion here that is truly unique. So what does this mean for you, today, right now?

If this is your first assignment, welcome to the big leagues. Like a championship football program, your predecessors have built a tradition of excellence, so you better bring you're A-Game, your absolute best, every day. Mediocrity might cut it elsewhere, but here, you'll simply get left behind. I get phone calls from retired general officers and Chief Master Sergeants, asking me how things are going in Charleston. Without fail, they always want to know if the latest crop of Charleston Airmen are dominating like they have in the past. Your goal is to make sure that answer is always a resounding "Yes."

If you're an instructor pilot or loadmaster, a NCO in a supervisory position or someone who's been in this profession for a while, you're responsible for fostering the high-performing environment that's been woven into the fabric of Charleston over the years. When new folks walk through the door, it's your job to grab them, take them under your wing and make it crystal clear that best is the standard. If someone falls behind, you better coach them up quickly. Those who came before you surely did.

If you're a Commander, a Chief or a First Sergeant, consider yourself fortunate to lead such talented Airmen at such a historic location. We are caretakers of an amazing legacy and trailblazers for an even better tomorrow. You joined the long line of mobility leaders, those with names like McDew, Everhart and Cox, who have led Charleston Airmen. Twenty years from now, will people mention you in the same breath as those legends that came before you? Today's Airmen are craving leadership; your job is to provide it.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University head basketball coach, once said, "People want to be on a team. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to be in a situation where they feel they are doing something for the greater good." That is exactly what we have at Charleston. People want to be part of a high performing organization. They want to work alongside the very best and they want to know when they drive through those gates, they're entering a special place where the extraordinary is commonplace, not the exception. Here at Charleston, we walk the same ground as mobility legends that have come before us. Are you ready to be the next generation?