Reflections After Two Months of Command

  • Published
  • By Col. Kurt Wendt
  • 501st Combat Support Wing

Pathfinders— It’s hard for me to believe, but I took the flag and became part of this great 501st Combat Support Wing team just over two months ago.  And what a two months it has been! My wife, Kristina, and I want to say “Thank You” for the warm welcome our family received. We knew we were joining a great team from the moment we arrived. As we work to help our service members and families across the wing, we appreciate you taking care of us, as well.

I’ve been to all seven of our main operating bases, and met many of you across the wing. Everywhere I’ve gone, my observation has been the same—we have amazing Airmen doing incredible things, every single day. Simply stated, our wing is outstanding, and it’s because of each and every one of you.  It’s because of our people.

My vision for the wing is that we do three things really well: Enable combat operations, Engage our joint and international partners, and Enhance quality of life for our service members and families. Those are my priorities, and I would ask you to make them yours, as well.  If we are effective in these three areas, we will be successful as a wing.

Each of us has an important role to enable combat operations. Whether you guard the base, make our computer networks work, provide medical care to our Airmen and families, or support our base communities, you make it possible for the U.S. and our allies to apply combat power. You make our wing mission possible.

Every one of us is also an ambassador as we engage with our joint and international partners.  We are ambassadors for the Air Force as we work with the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and mission partners across the wing. And we are ambassadors for the United States when we get out and engage with our hosts here in the United Kingdom and Norway. The relationships we build make our organization better, and allow us to make the most of our time overseas.

We also need to continue working together to enhance quality of life for all of our service members, civilians, and family members. I’m a big believer that when we are well taken care of, we are able to focus on our mission. We may not have the biggest bases with the most amenities, but in my experience across the 501st, our people more than make up the difference. Your efforts make life better for our community.

In my short time here in the 501st, we’ve already seen an array of Distinguished Visitors at many of our bases. Recently, we were privileged to host the commander of U.S. European Command and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Wolters, and his wife Charlene. As they prepared to depart, General Wolters said to me, “Kurt, you haven’t stopped smiling since we’ve been here.” I hadn’t thought much about it, but he was right. In fact, I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling since the change of command.  I feel so privileged to be a part of this great team and work side by side with our Airmen that I doubt I’ll stop smiling anytime soon.

Former Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Jumper, once said, “It’s truly an honor to be selected to command in our Air Force. Our challenge, every day, is to be worthy of that honor.” I couldn’t agree more, and will work every hour of every day to be worthy to be your commander. Thanks for what you do, and keep up the good work. Pathfinders Light the Way!