AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar. --
No question about it. Commanding the 379th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron is the highlight of my career and no words can express the gratitude that I have for the men and women in this squadron.
One of my favorite souvenirs is a photo taken at Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, of a bunch of people I’d never seen before, but they seemed to be having a great time. Several days before the picture was taken, a fellow squadron commander asked if we could send any food forward to PSAB to offer the advanced teams something other than Meals Ready-to-Eat. This request is not something we typically do. There’s no Standard Operating Procedure in place. Regardless, the request was passed to our rations team and they put together a package and coordinated with an outgoing aircrew to get the food to PSAB. The package contained all things needed for a Barbecue on July 4th, and that was the photo I received. After weeks of living on MREs, the advanced team threw a burger burn because the rations team found a way to “get to yes.”
There are countless examples similar to the one above and I’m glad for the opportunity to be a part of this team. There’s absolutely no substitute for the relationships that made this past year a success. To my fellow squadron commanders… thank you. There were many problems resolved at Rosie’s on Friday night and I still have bar napkins with scribbled notes that document the collaboration.
Same goes for my front office team. The CSS, the Shirt and our Deputy took incredible care of our Airmen and kept us on track. As for my Chief… needless to say, Marty Arnold will be “my chief” until the end of my days. The Operations Officer, Readiness Office, and flight leaders moved mountains. All of our accomplishments came from the sweat on their brows.
During my time here, I’ve seen the squadron accomplish two Dining Facility refresh projects, a new FOX Sports Box design and a fixer-upper at the Kasbah, all while providing 13,000 meals every day. The Personnel in Support of Contingency Operations team worked around the clock while our education center kept careers on track. When regional tensions escalated in early January of this year, I’ll never forget the Airman and Family Readiness Center going into action to maintain lines of communication with our families living downtown. If this wasn’t enough, the flights later came together to create a Transient Town, Quarantine Town, and a new food operation to help sequester more than 1,300 people to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019. Everyone came together to keep the post office and fitness centers open (obvious crowd favorites). These efforts are still underway and I wish everyone the best of luck navigating through this pandemic.
Without our Vectrus and CH2M partners, it’s mission failure. During this past year, I watched Mr. Dalton and Mr. Pac move over 1,000 people from trailers into hardened facilities to improve force protection for the installation. This all happened during the normal January deployment pivot when hundreds of people were arriving. Needless to say, the mass movement during that time was an unprecedented challenge; however, Vectrus swung at the pitch and hit a grand slam. Likewise, Mr. Collins and his team pulled off incredible Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, but the effort to change DFAC procedures in response to COVID-19 will forever stand out in my mind. The team redesigned the food lines and dining rooms to ensure everyone took the necessary precautions for social distancing and I don’t think any of us will ever be able to stand in a line again without looking down for tape marks on the floor to remind us to spread out.
Nothing in the EFSS takes place without coordination and support from our fellow Expeditionary Mission Support Group squadrons: Logistics Readiness, Contracting, Security Forces, Communications Squadrons, and especially not without Civil Engineers. The relationships between the EMSG squadron commanders will always be a highlight of this tour for me and I’m appreciative of the orchestration from my boss, Col. Tara White, and her team. Thank you, Al Udeid, and best wishes on the endeavors to come.