KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
For the first time since March 2020, the Air Force Reserve Command’s 403rd Wing held a fully in-person Unit Training Assembly. Wing Commander Col. Jeffrey A. Van Dootingh held a commander’s call at the Roberts Maintenance Facility auditorium Oct. 3 to address the Airmen who serve in the unit en masse.
This commanders’ call looked a lot different from those in the past. In order to follow base and Centers for Disease Control guidelines, the majority of the attendees were present for the event via Zoom.
The wing began the commander’s call by recognizing Airmen for a number of achievements including Community College of the Air Force degree recipients, Career Development Course top performers, and the monthly enlisted, officer and Step II promotions.
Also recognized were the following units and personnel:
• The 5th Operational Weather Flight at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. received the 2019 AFRC Weather Organization Below Unit Level award.
• Senior Master Sgt. Jeremy Coleman, 5th OWF, was named the 2019 AFRC Weather Senior NCO of the year.
• Staff Sgt. Tyrece Thompson, 5th OWF, earned the 2019 AFRC Weather NCO of the year award.
• Senior Master Sgt. Barry Satterfield, 36th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, won AFRC’S 2019 Aeromedical Evacuation Outstanding SNCO award.
Quarterly awards were also presented to those in attendance for the 1st and 2nd quarter.
2nd Quarter award winners were announced in September and are as follows:
• Company Grade Officer: Capt. Grant Talkington, 5th OWF
• Field Grade Officer: Lt. Col. Clinton Cash, 403rd Mission Support Group
• Airman: Senior Airman Myles Price, 403rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
• NCO: Tech. Sgt. Brian Fonseca, Jr., 403rd Security Forces Squadron
• Senior NCO: Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Barlow, 41st Aerial Port Squadron
• First Sergeant: Master Sgt. Karen P. Moore, 403rd Logistics Readiness Squadron
• Civilian, Category II: Mr. Monte Snyder, 403rd Wing Staff
Prior to Van Dootingh’s address, a number of speakers took the stage, or screen, including Ms. Megan Rubio, wife of 403rd Operations Group Commander Col. Stuart Rubio, to talk about the reinvigoration of the wing’s Key Spouse Program. Key spouses work closely with unit commanders and first sergeants to serve as a liaison between the unit and unit members’ families to provide information on helping organizations, resources, and family friendly events – especially during deployments.
There were also briefings by Maj. Terry Thomas, the equal opportunity officer, Tech. Sgt. John Ables from wing safety, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program by Maj. Brittany Olivier, and a resiliency testimony by Master Sgt. James Rials, 403rd Maintenance Squadron. Following Rials’ testimony, Van Dootingh wrapped up the commander’s call by first recognizing the importance of getting help and being a good wingman to others who may need help.
“If you need help, talk to somebody,” he said. “If you know of someone that needs help, encourage them to get help. Part of our job is being good wingmen.”
He then recognized members of the 36th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron who were among the first to mobilize for COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
Finally, Van Dootingh spoke on the impacts COVID-19 has had on the wing leadership’s decision-making in regards to missions and the risk level leadership is willing to accept. He noted that while some events and training have been cancelled because the level of risk was unnecessary, other missions and deployments have continued successfully in the midst of a pandemic.
“My promise to you is we will only accept the minimal level of risk that makes sense to accept depending on what mission we need to get done,” said Van Dootingh. “It’s not over yet. What this wing has done has been absolutely incredible and it has been recognized at the highest levels of leadership. Thank you for all you do.”