Spangdahlem’s Airmen doing an exemplary job

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Pamela Derrow
  • USAFE Command Chief
As I continue my travels around the command, I'm constantly impressed by the quality of Airmen we have in U.S. Air Forces Europe. Time and again I'm introduced to Airmen who are making a difference in our Air Force on behalf of the nation.

On my recent trip to Spangdahlem Air Base, I had the opportunity to meet with senior enlisted leaders and talk about relevant issues that are challenging our service. Among the issues we discussed at the Top 3 meeting were deployments, stress on the force and man power. While we did not necessarily solve all the problems, it was educating and useful to speak with other senior noncommissioned officers to get the ground truth on what is happening around the command.

Equally impressive were the junior enlisted Airmen I met on my visits to the 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron, 52nd Communications Squadron and 52nd Security Forces Squadron dormitories. The dorm councils for these units are energized with taking care of their living spaces. If they are taking that good of care of their homes, then I know they are taking care of the 52nd Fighter Wing mission. I want to specifically mention Senior Airman Derek Kirkland and Airmen 1st Class Allison Adams, Anthony Alvarez, Jamie Croft, Nathan Hicks and Zachary Weekly, who did a great job showing me the efforts of the dorm residents.

Also, I was able to see the Spangdahlem USAFE European Transportation Training Center, which is helping train our Airmen to operate vehicles in a deployed environment. In fact, they will soon get a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle to train on to help Airmen downrange stay protected. This is a great example of how a need was identified and action was taken to ensure we are giving our deploying servicemembers the tools and training they need to operate in hostile locations.

While taking care of our Airmen is important, we are always mindful of family members. In fact, I was awed with the efforts by the Spangdahlem spouses' group, who even has a topnotch Web site at to give timely information to spouses who are currently stationed at or coming to the base. This is a great example of Air Force families taking care of one another. I highly encourage all Airmen and their families to embrace these sorts of supporting networks.

My trip was punctuated by my visit to the Spangdahlem Airman Leadership School, where I had the honor of being the guest speaker for the graduating class. Master Sgt. Michael Lemond, the ALS commandant, was a gracious escort and was instrumental in my seeing the phenomenal job the instructors are doing in preparing our Airmen for their future responsibilities. Staff Sgt. Jessica Alfke's efforts as the graduation coordinator were outstanding and I told her it was the best ALS graduation I've seen to date. It was inspiring and humbling to be a part of the future of our next enlisted Air Force leaders.

When I left the base, I knew I could say Spangdahlem is in good hands because of the hard work being done by the leadership and enlisted corps to accomplish the wing's mission. I cannot name all the great people I met at the base, but there were a few Sabers who stood out as shining examples for others to follow. Tech. Sgt. Jon Mobley, 81st Aircraft Maintenance Unit; Staff Sgt. Andrew Lucero, 52nd Component Maintenance Squadron; Senior Airman Amanda Koldeway, 52nd Operations Support Squadron; Airman 1st Class Ronnie Saldana, 606th Air Control Squadron; Airman 1st Class Joshua Stubstad, 52nd Equipment Maintenance Squadron; and Airman Dayton Ritter, 52nd Security Forces Squadron are Airmen I met on my trip and who are of the highest caliber. They reflect credit upon their units and we're lucky to have them as part of the USAFE team.

This trip also took me to a geographically separated unit of Spangdahlem, where Airmen are part of a joint and coalition team doing their part of the NATO mission. The 470th Air Base Squadron at Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base, Germany, supports the nearly 450 Air Force members assigned there. They also provide administrative support to 100 or so other Airmen assigned to Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum, the Netherlands and the Joint Air Power Competence Center and Combine Air Operation Center at Kalkar, Germany.

This lean, yet effective unit provides critical mission support to servicemembers and their families who are assigned to the Tri-Border area, including medical and dental support to 5,300 U.S. military personnel and their families. They also provide ancillary support to more than 1,400 international servicemembers and their families from 12 different nations.

These are valued Airmen doing great work in the international and joint world. Airmen like Master Sgt. Jeff Depper, Tech. Sgt. Brian Sharp and Staff Sgts. Nakaei Grady, Tanya Mitchell and Tara Watamaleo are all providing critical support to the overall NATO mission and are a tribute to our service.

Both visits highlighted that our Airmen have important duties to perform and every job is critical. It's imperative that every Airman performs their duties to the highest standards - that is, to live the core values that underpin our Air Force. I'm proud to be an Airman, and I know you are too. I ask all Airmen to continue to lead from the front and be the best Airman you can be.