Air Force's top enlisted leader visits Hancock Field

  • Published
  • By Maj. Jeffrey D. Brown
  • 174th Attack Wing
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody and Mrs. Athena Cody traveled to Hancock Field Air National Guard Base Sept. 6 to 8 to visit Airmen and see the various missions of the 174th Attack Wing.

Cody is the highest enlisted level of leadership in the U.S. Air Force, and as such, provides direction to over 250,000 enlisted personnel and represents their interests to the American public and those in all levels of government. Hancock Field is one of the first Air National Guard bases he has visited since becoming CMSAF earlier this year.

The visit included mission briefings, tours and meetings with Airmen and families from the 174th Attack Wing, 152nd Air Operations Group, 274th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS), Eastern Air Defense Sector and 222nd Command and Control Squadron (CACS), and concluded with a senior enlisted call.

During the enlisted call, Cody thanked Airmen for what they do to support and defend the nation, and stressed the importance of their role in the remotely piloted aircraft mission.

"Most people don't realize we have tens of thousands of people in our Air Force that focus on the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission each and every day, all day long, seven days a week, 365 days a year," said Cody. "You have done great things protecting our troops on the ground around the world. This mission has revolutionized the way we think about warfare -- and many of you in this room are directly involved in that each and every day."

Cody was joined during his visit by the Command Chief Master Sergeant of the Air National Guard, James Hotaling. He serves as the senior enlisted advisor to Lt. Gen. Sid Clarke, the director of the Air National Guard, on matters concerning the readiness, morale, welfare, proper use and progress of more than 90,000 enlisted Airmen.

The visit to Hancock Field was a unique opportunity to see a full array of mission sets, from boots on the ground (274th ASOS), to ISR (174th Attack Wing), to satellite operations (222nd CACS), all in one place, Cody told the group.

"This is a unique base because of your wide variety of missions," he said. "It was a very comprehensive and motivating couple of days for us here. It motivates us and inspires us to see you perform your missions at such a high level. We will continue doing everything we can to make sure you have what you need, and what your families need, to be able to continue to put this uniform on and serve your nation."

Mrs. Cody, who is a 26-year Air Force veteran and former chief master sergeant herself, was also impressed by the diversity of the Guard. "The people of the Air National Guard are just amazing! They're like multi-use tools--you ask for a training manager and you get a training manager who's a nurse, or a teacher, or a business leader."

During the visit, Chief Cody touched on concerns about budgets, sequestration and changes necessary for the future of the Air Force. Cody said over the next 10 years, budgets may shrink and the Air Force may get smaller, but if the Air Force continues to recruit the best people in the country, train them better than anyone and give them better equipment than anyone, it will continue to excel.

Cody then turned to what he saw as one of the greatest strengths of the Guard--its cohesiveness. "As Guardsmen, you stay together longer and have tremendous camaraderie and pride in what you do. You can see it, smell it, feel it. There is a tremendous amount of power in how Guard members grow to know each other."

As he concluded his visit, Cody told the assembled audience "you make us the world's greatest Air Force. The real reason I'm here is to thank you. Your service is recognized and it is appreciated. Make no mistake - you make a difference for people around the world. A grateful nation provides its heartfelt thanks."