KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Col. Stuart M. Rubio, 403rd Wing commander, held his first commander’s calls Sept. 12 at the Roberts Consolidated Maintenance Facility auditorium.
Commander’s calls are put together as a way to address the wing en masse on commander priorities, important issues, events and updates, and it provides an opportunity for different entities to present pertinent information to Reserve Citizen Airmen. It’s also an opportunity to recognize award winners, promotions, Community College of the Air Force degree recipients, and other outstanding performers.
Rubio began the event by recognizing Airmen from the 403rd Maintenance Group here and the 913th Maintenance Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., for their months of work restoring the wing of a WC-130J Super Hercules aircraft assigned to the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron that was severely damaged by a fire.
“There are times when we are called on to go over and above what we normally do, and when this damage occurred, it became one of those times,” said Rubio. “There was great teamwork between our Airmen and the maintainers that came down from Little Rock. It took a lot of effort, but they got this aircraft back flying, so I wanted to recognize them.”
Quarterly award winners were recognized for the first and second quarters (Jan-March and April-June, respectively) and are as follows:
- Airman of the Quarter: Senior Airman Kenneth Redeemer, 403rd Operations Support Squadron
- Noncommissioned Officer of the Quarter: Staff Sgt. Paul Johnson, 403rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
- Senior NCO of the Quarter: Master Sgt. Eric Roth, 403rd AMXS
- Company Grade Officer of the Quarter: Capt. Patrick Tift, 53rd WRS
- Field Grade Officer of the Quarter: Lt. Col. Marla Stewart, 403rd Aeromedical Staging Squadron
- Civilian (Category I) of the Quarter: Christina Gossett, 403rd Force Support Squadron
- Civilian (Category II) of the Quarter: Vincent Hawkins, 803rd AMXS
- Airman of the Quarter: Senior Airman Aaron Collyer, 403rd Security Forces Squadron
- Noncommissioned Officer of the Quarter: Tech. Sgt. Stone Barefield, 403rd AMXS
- Senior NCO of the Quarter: Senior Master Sgt. Stephanie Black, 403rd Wing
- First Sergeant of the Quarter: Master Sgt. Crystal Jones, 41st Aerial Port Squadron
- Company Grade Officer of the Quarter: 1st Lt. Curtis Latham, 403rd Wing
- Field Grade Officer of the Quarter: Lt. Col. Sabrina Hawkins, 403rd Wing
- Civilian (Category I) of the Quarter: Linh Dickey, 403rd Maintenance Squadron
- Civilian (Category II) of the Quarter: Linda K. McCullough, 403rd Wing
Also recognized, were recipients of the Air Force Reserve’s STEP II promotions.
A selection board convened at Headquarters Air Reserve Personnel Center at Buckley AFB, Colorado in August to select exceptional Airmen nominated for promotion to the rank of technical sergeant through chief master sergeant.
Out of 105 nominations, only 27 Airmen were selected for senior master sergeant; two of those Airmen were the 403rd Wing’s Monica Garcia, 403rd FSS, and William Yttre, 5th Operational Weather Flight. Jonathan Evans and Rodrique Hackett of the 803rd AMXS, Jeremy Perryman, 403rd OSS, and Tyrece Thompson, 5th OWF, all earned promotions to technical sergeant out of the 105 selected and 130 nominated.
Following Rubio’s opening remarks and the recognition of wing members’ achievements, representatives from the Chaplain’s office, Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, Top III, FSS, Fitness Program, and Operational Security briefed those in attendance.
Tech. Sgt. Dishau JeanJacques, the 403rd Wing’s Yellow Ribbon representative, provided a refresher on the program which serves as an interactive educational and inspirational resource for deployers and their families before, during, and after a deployment.
Representing Top 3, Senior Master Sgt. Kimelyn Valley, 403rd OSS first sergeant and Top 3 president, invited senior NCOs to participate in the group which meets on Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. during UTA weekends. The organization is a non-profit that allows for SNCOs to be more involved in professional development and mentoring while also assisting the wing by hosting activities, ceremonies, fundraisers and more.
“Leadership can be likened to the relationship between a thermostat and a thermometer,” Valley said. “A thermostat dictates change based on conditions, and a thermometer merely reflects the change the thermostat made. I encourage you, senior enlisted leaders, to be a thermostat. Get involved with Top 3 and affect change.”
To mitigate unnecessary spending on lodging, as well as for individuals to continue to be able to secure lodging, Lt. Col. Costau Bastien, 403rd FSS commander, reminded Airmen to cancel lodging in the event they are not able to make it for the Unit Training Assembly weekend.
“We know life happens and that sometimes Airmen end up not being able to attend the UTA weekend,” said Bastien. “If that’s a situation you find yourself in, please help us out and cancel your reservation through the automated system before 3:00 p.m. the Friday before the UTA, or, if it’s after 3 p.m., call the Tyer House (228-377-4900) and ask to speak to a 403rd representative, and one of my FSS members will take care of you.”
Recent changes to fitness testing were also addressed by Senior Master Sgt. Lisa Baldelli, fitness program manager, who highlighted AFRC’s transition from weather waiver exemptions for the cardio portion to the alternate, indoor test, the 20 meter High Aerobic Multi-shuttle test. She also highlighted the Air Force-wide change in age scoring brackets being reduced from 10- to 5-year intervals and a new, approved alternate location on the Highway 81 track near the Keesler Marina for the 1.5-mile run.
Following the briefings, Rubio, who took command in June, and Command Chief Master Sgt. Barbara Gilmore, whose first UTA with the 403rd was in August, each took the opportunity to introduce themselves and speak about their priorities before opening up the floor for questions, comments and concerns.
Rubio presented a list of his priorities to the wing that included: diversity and inclusion, continuous improvement, resiliency, using your voice, and fun.
“Whether it was in ROTC field training, officer training school, or basic training, we all started our military career with a group of individuals from all over, each with their own perspective,” said Rubio. “Those different perspectives enable us to tackle the hard challenges we face. One of those is our requirement to continuously improve. We call ourselves the ‘Wing of Choice’ but that won’t last if we don’t continue to evolve and change and improve, and that takes the input and consideration of all the perspectives within the wing.”
As the top enlisted leader for the wing, Gilmore stressed the importance of empowerment, enlisted organizations like Rising 6 and Top 3, and professional development.
Like Top 3, Rising 6 is an organization that provides an opportunity for enlisted Airmen, airman basic to technical sergeant, to network outside of their offices and squadrons.
“The pandemic put a halt to a lot of things within the wing, but as we move forward and hold in-person UTAs, I expect growing participation in these organizations,” she said. “I also expect to see an influx of participation in professional development and my goal is for the wing to have a professional development seminar within the next year-and-a-half.”
To close it out, Rubio looked forward to upcoming events for the wing, notably its Unit Effectiveness Inspection in November and the holiday gathering in December.
If anyone in the wing is interested in helping with the organization and planning of the gathering, please contact Chief Master Sgt. Tomme Lassabe, 403rd MXG senior enlisted leader.