March 10, 2014, ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFNS) – Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody and their spouses, Betty and Athena, spent two days here to tour the installation and meet Airmen and their families March 5 and 6. Welsh also served as keynote speaker at the Altus Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet in the City of Altus, March 6.
During the visit, Welsh and Cody spoke to hundreds of Airmen at an all call held inside an open hangar.
“The Chief and I had the pleasure of being here at Altus before in our previous roles in Air Education and Training Command,” Welsh said. “The sense of pride and attitude that the young men and women and their families display here comes as no surprise.”
Upholding Air Force core values, increasing communication in the chain of command and stressing the importance of getting to know each other were some of the topics discussed during the speech.
“If you read the papers, we’re not following (the core values) very well right now,” Welsh said. “The core values mean something to us. Talk to your people. Make sure they know what integrity means. The way I think of it, if you don’t believe in those core values. If you don’t believe they represent what you stand for, you probably shouldn’t be in the armed services.”
After speaking, the leaders opened the floor for questions. One of the questions concerned Altus AFB’s placement as a Commander and Chief’s Installation Excellence award finalist and Welsh confirmed that Altus was indeed the top Air Force installation.
“Congratulations. That’s a phenomenal accomplishment,” Welsh said. “It takes everybody in a wing to make it happen, and it takes everybody in the community to support you to accomplish this. It’s really exciting news for all of us.”
Welsh said the award a reflection of the quality of work from Airmen at the wing.
“There are 130,000 people in the mobility enterprise in the United States Air Force,” Welsh said. “One hundred and thirty thousand going around the world and you train them all. Thank you all for what you do. You have no idea how much your accomplishments mean.”
Cody echoed the General’s words with praise of his own.
“The men and women you are training make our mission possible,” Cody said. “What you do is important. It’s needed. Thank you so much for everything you do.”
During their time at Altus AFB, Mrs. Welsh and Mrs. Cody spoke with Airmen and spouses about trending topics and local family support programs. They also toured various facilities throughout the base.
“I think one of the biggest things we see around the Air Force is people worrying about the support and the benefits we have now, and if they are going away,” Mrs. Welsh said during a conversation with Altus AFB key spouses. “In our support networks now, we try to talk about the key spouse programs because it can really help fill in the gaps to support each other and take care of one another.”
“We encourage everyone to try and use their professional and social organizations and leverage them to do what you need them to do,” Mrs. Cody said.
Throughout the visit, outstanding performers were recognized by Welsh and Cody for their individual accomplishments.
From learning about Airmen resiliency programs to advances in training techniques and equipment, Welsh and Cody left with a great perspective of what motivates the Mighty 97th.
“You get the feeling that it is comfortable here and that people really appreciate the base,” Welsh said. “Altus is one of the few bases where everyone walks away saying great things about the base.”