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Top Enlisted Leader of the Air National Guard Visits 106th Rescue Wing

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Sarah McKernan
  • 106th Rescue Wing

F.S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base, N.Y. – The Air National Guard’s highest enlisted leader, Chief Master Sgt. Maurice L. Williams, command chief of the Air National Guard, visited Airmen of the 106th Rescue Wing at Gabreski Air National Guard Base, December 1.

Williams is the 13th Command Chief of the Air National Guard and acts as the principal advisor to the Director of the Air National Guard. He is directly responsible for all matters influencing the health, morale, welfare, job satisfaction, discipline, utilization, family support, quality of life and professional development of over 108,300 Air Guard members.

To start off his visit, Williams received a wing-specific mission overview from 106th Rescue Wing Commander, Col. Shawn Fitzgerald. The 106th Rescue Wing provides worldwide personnel recovery, combat search and rescue capability, expeditionary combat support, and civil search and rescue support to federal and state authorities. The wing also provides personnel recovery services to the state of New York and to deployed operations that they are tasked to support.

Williams led a town hall meeting for all enlisted members where he discussed the National Defense Strategy and upcoming changes for the Air National Guard to improve global readiness.

“This is your time,” said Williams. “There is no greater time in history for individuals to be in our Air Force and our Air National Guard. You are the ones that defend our nation. You are the ones we need to change our organization. This is your opportunity to put your footprint, put your stamp on saving the nation.”

Some of the changes discussed included securing more funding to improve online professional military education (PME) for senior noncommissioned officers (NCO).

“Across the Air Force, we are bringing foundational courses to our enlisted force,” said Williams. “These courses are going to focus more on supervision and managing people and resources. This is how we will enhance our individuals.”

Williams recognized five Airmen for their achievements and superior performances and presented them each with a coin.

Tech. Sgt. Jonathan McPherson, an Air Transportation Specialist with the 106th, was one of the members coined for his performance.

“Having Chief Williams come visit was inspiring,” said McPherson. “When he spoke about the circle that he has, finding the right people, being able to take control of your career and move forward, I thought that was very inspiring.”

Senior Airman Michael Daddona, a medic with the 106th Rescue Wing, was one of 10 Airmen chosen to sit down for lunch with Williams and had an opportunity for a one-on-one conversation with him.

“Talking with Chief Williams was an awesome experience. We were able to hear his enlistment story, which very much resembled my own,” said Daddona. “Hearing the similarities opened my eyes to the individual room for growth in the Air National Guard. Chief Williams also allowed the attendees to speak openly about our ideas of where improvements can be made on a national and state level. The openness of the dialogue made it clear how good of a leader Chief Williams is. His ability to stay grounded despite his rank and status is an attribute that I believe all leaders should have.”

Williams also met with enlisted councils to discuss concerns at the Airman level. He discussed his view of the 106th and emphasized the importance of these organizations each having a vision and mission statement to keep them on track and reach their objectives.

“One thing you will always hear me say is, people don’t leave organizations, people leave people,” said Williams. “To keep our retention rates at the highest level, we have to have a connection with those we work for, and we have to empower them to be innovators in our workplace.”

The 106th Rescue Wing, based at F.S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach, New York, operates and maintains the HC-130J Combat King II search and rescue aircraft, and the HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopter. The 106th Rescue Wing is home to a special warfare squadron with pararescuemen and combat rescue officers, specializing in rescue and recovery, and deploys for domestic and overseas operations.