by Master Sgt. Brian Lamar
403rd Wing Public Affairs
6/3/2014 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AFNS) -- Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James met with civic leaders, toured facilities and spoke to the Airmen and senior leaders of the 403rd Wing alongside
Mississippi's 4th district U.S. Representative Steven Palazzo and U.S.
Senator Roger Wicker during a visit to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi,
Mississippi, May 29 and 30.
During the secretary's time with the 403rd Wing, James also attended
briefings and toured the 2nd Air Force and 81st Training Wing. Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, chief of the Air Force Reserve and commander, Air Force Reserve Command, accompanied James on the visit.
"We are thrilled to host the secretary of the Air Force and chief of the Air Force Reserve," said Col. Frank Amodeo,
the 403rd Wing commander. "In these challenging times with force
structure changes and manning reductions, visits by our senior leaders
speak volumes about how much they truly care about all of our Airmen and
The 403rd Wing is the only Air Force Reserve Wing in Mississippi and
flies the unique mission of aerial reconnaissance into hurricanes while
also conducting tactical airdrop missions in support of contingencies
During her tour of the 403rd Wing, James viewed the 403rd Maintenance
Propulsion Shop, 41st Aerial Port Squadron and aircraft. The day
concluded with an "all call" with Keesler Airmen where James spoke about
her three key priorities as SecAF, which included discussing the future
of the Air Force during a fiscally constrained time.
"My top priorities are taking care of our people, balancing what we have
today for tomorrow's readiness and making every dollar count," James
She also answered questions during the "all call" about commissary
benefits and international relations with Russia regarding the space
program and effects of upcoming force reductions to morale.
While visiting the 403rd Wing's assets, James toured both models of the C-130J fleet on Keesler. The WC-130J Hurricane Hunter model
was additionally equipped with aeromedical evacuation, or AE, litters
and critical care air transport team equipment. This highlights a "make
every dollar count initiative," where AE accomplishes training
simultaneously with weather reconnaissance aircrews.
During her visit to one of the Hurricane Hunter aircraft, Maj. Sean
Cross, a hurricane hunter pilot, explained the weather reconnaissance
mission. When asked of James about the hazards of flying into the eye of
hurricanes Cross responded, "Flying is inherently dangerous. We have
highly experienced crews and great training. Those things mitigate the
risks and keep us safe."
Also during the day, James toured the 41st Aerial Port Squadron and
Senior Master Sgt. James Childs, an Air Reserve technician with the 41st
APS, explained the sophistication behind "throwing" equipment and cargo
out the back of a C-130J.
According to 1st Lt. Linda McCullough, the executive officer for the 403rd Maintenance Group, James' visit was meaningful.
"It was nice for us to showcase our talents and abilities and the level
of passion and knowledge that people have in their jobs here," she said.
"The visit was motivating and it showed us that we are important to our