Team McConnell (Airpower!)

  • Published
  • By Col. Jamie Crowhurst
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander
Today I have the privilege of taking command of the 22nd Air Refueling Wing and I am excited about the opportunity to lead this great team. It is a double honor for me to assume command from Jim Vechery because he's not only a brother in arms but also a brother in faith. We've had the opportunity to serve together on previous assignments and he remains one of the finest officers I know. 

During a recent orientation at Air Mobility Command Headquarters, my wife Lisa and I heard first hand from the staff about the magnificent job he and Robin have done leading McConnell. We are honored to follow in their footsteps and wish them all the best as they take the reins of the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base in California. Having just left Team Travis, it's good to know the people we left will be well taken care of by caring, compassionate leaders. 

What a great time to arrive in Kansas as we prepare to celebrate our nation's birthday! Lisa, our daughter Elle' and I pulled into town three days ago and we've been warmly welcomed by everyone we've meet. It's been 13 years since we left our last assignment in the Midwest and it's very reassuring to come back to a place that already feels like home. We also brought a little of home with us as my parents, Will and Marcine Crowhurst, and our good friend Momoko Rarick are here to celebrate with us and hopefully unpack a few boxes too. As we get settled into our home, we look forward to exploring the local community and becoming a part of it. Marching in the Derby Fourth of July parade will be a great start, so if you see us there please come by and say hi. 

As I take command, there are a few things I'd like you to know about me. First, the most important relationship in my life is the personal one I have with God. Second, the two most important people in my life are Lisa and Elle' and you will likely see them with me at a lot functions. Third, I love serving our country in the Air Force and I consider it a privilege to do so. My philosophy on leadership is also very simple. We need to know our jobs and why we do what we do. We need to work as a team to accomplish our mission and having a positive mental attitude will ensure we have fun in the process. 

Our mission at the 22nd Air Refueling Wing remains the same: we enable Global Vigilance, Reach and Power for the Nation; provide combat ready Airmen to combatant commanders; and deliver robust support to our total force community. As I said in my Change of Command remarks, you're doing this extremely well and I'm also confident that you will continue your outstanding performance on deployments supporting our combatant commanders. Likewise, as we continue to deepen our partnership with the 931st Air Refueling Group, we will build a seamless total force team. 

During my first thirty days of command, you will not see any large changes in our wing. Expect me to follow a wise mentor's advice and have "big ears and a little mouth." As I develop my vision, I am confident McConnell will continue to be the Air Force's "Center of Air Refueling Excellence." Our special operations air refueling mission is critical to the nation and makes us unique as we run the KC-135 navigator schoolhouse to provide crewmembers for this critical mission. 

In addition to performing well in deployed theaters of operation, you've also done amazing things to support our nation's nuclear enterprise. Your performance in the recently completed Global Thunder exercise drew high praise from the Commander of United States Strategic Command, General Chilton, as well as the Commander of 18th Air Force, Major General Scott. That's very important because they represent our chain of command for nuclear operations and we cannot fail in that mission. 

To our partners on the installation, I look forward to working with you and pledge to support you as you execute your missions. To the Friends of McConnell and our community leaders who do so much to support our service, I pledge to carry on the relationship established by my predecessors so we can continue to take outstanding care of the Airmen who execute our mission every day. 

The reality of serving our nation on a daily, weekly, monthly basis is not an easy task. It's kept many of our Airmen deployed for extended periods, missing countless birthdays, anniversaries and holidays with loved ones and friends. It is not easy for our families to support us while we're deployed and also keep things running at home. For that reason, I want to start my tour by specifically thanking those family members and loved ones who enable our Airman to serve. 

Finally, I'd like to close with a quote from the Secretary of the Air Force's recent Letter to Airmen. In the letter Secretary Donley describes how Staff Sergeant Zachary Rhyner earned the Air Force Cross for valor while in combat in Afghanistan. He said, "This remarkable experience reminds us that teamwork starts with YOU. By joining the Air Force, you have joined a cause greater than yourself -- one where success comes from collective efforts. Daily, you build on a rich legacy of Americans who pooled their talent to change the world..." You have already helped bring our nation to a strategic moment in our struggle against extremism. We've established a more secure Iraq than anyone thought possible less than three years ago. To continue to win our nation's battles it will require leadership and teamwork at all levels and we each have an important part to play. I look forward to working with each of you to make a difference for our nation.