Every Airman brings a skill set crucial to the Vance mission

  • Published
  • By Col. Tim Gibson
  • 71st Mission Support Group commander
"There's the snap. The quarterback steps back, turns to his right and hands off to the half back. He dives up the middle. He scores!!"

Those words are repeated any number of times during a football season and at any level of the game from Pop Warner to the pros. Invariably, the focus of attention after a successful scoring play like this is the running back.

And while much of the runner's credit is well-deserved, there is often little attention paid to the offensive linemen who play such a crucial role in making the scoring play possible.

Each lineman brings a skill set that is more exhaustive than many fans realize. They bring tremendous strength and conditioning to bear during each down. The best also bring in-depth study of each play, an understanding of their role in the blocking scheme and knowledge of their opponents' strengths and vulnerabilities.

And that's all before the first snap of the ball. Once on the field, their execution depends on solid footwork, coordination and hand position aggressively applied down after down. Between each series, there's discussion of successes, adjustments needed and guidance from coaches.

Recently, I witnessed another impressive display of teamwork -- right here at Vance AFB. Tragically, on Nov. 12, 2010, we lost an Air Education and Training Command Airman to a fatal accident in a deployed location.

Consistent with our commitment, the U.S. Air Force fielded a safety investigation board to conduct a review of the factors involved and make recommendations to avoid a repeat. I was privileged to lead a team of five professionals in that effort.

By their very nature, mishaps are unexpected and the timeline to respond is very tight. Fortunately for me, I had tremendous teammates from each of Vance's three groups and the Wing Staff Agency who knew exactly what was required to get me off-station with everything I needed to be successful.

Offices across the 71st Medical Group ensured my personal preparedness despite the lack of orders, clear cut destination or duration of the trip. A unit deployment manager from the 71st Operations Group walked me through the gear I would need, and as importantly, the gear I could reasonably leave behind.

Personnel from the 71st Mission Support Group provided a weapons refresher and admin expertise. Airmen in the Wing Staff Agency supported the investigation with safety experience and transcription help as the investigation unfolded. Every obstacle I faced was overcome by the professionalism these folks brought to bear.

Each of these Airmen, whether enlisted, officer, civilian or contractor brought their training, experience and expertise to the challenge at hand. Similar actions were taken at each of the four bases from which my safety investigation team was drawn.

Their experiences "getting out the door" were remarkably similar to mine. All benefited from the preparedness and willingness of our fellow Airmen to play their roles well. All this so we could understand the loss of a fellow Airman that none of us had ever met.

I was completely impressed by the support Team Vance provided in this circumstance and want to pass on my sincere thanks for each person involved.

Every Airman on this base brings a skill set that is crucial to our execution of the Vance mission: Developing Airmen, Delivering world class pilots and Deploying combat ready warriors.

Over the coming weeks and months, we'll have the opportunity to pull together even more as we undergo our Environmental, Safety and Occupational Health inspection, our Health Services Inspection, and finally our Unit Compliance Inspection.

There are no easy wins anywhere on that list; none should be taken for granted. But given the talent and dedication on our Team, I'm confident we'll perform well. Continue to prepare, make necessary adjustments, and be receptive to coaching from those more experienced.

Your professional skill set, no matter what role you play, is a crucial part of our success.