by Senior Airman Hailey Staker
28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
7/22/2015 - ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Secretary
of the Air Force Deborah Lee James visited Ellsworth for the first time
July 19 to 21, interacting with the men and women who make the 28th
Bomb Wing a success.
During her trip, she explored several historic sites in the Black Hills,
and toured various units across base, experiencing Ellsworth's mission
and community firsthand.
"It is an enormous honor and privilege for me to be able to stand before
you, and it is something I take very seriously when I get out and about
around the country and the world to see our Air Force in action," James
While at Ellsworth she was able to fly in a B-1 bomber, where she
observed one of its primary capabilities - close air support - which
aviators from Ellsworth have been employing for nearly a decade in
support of combatant commanders.
Highlights of the Secretary's visit included a tour of the 28th Medical
Group, where she met with Airmen from many squadrons to receive
briefings on programs and innovations, such as Cold Spray technology, a
new process for repairing metals that has been utilized in Ellsworth's
maintenance group for several years.
She also spent time with the 432nd Attack Squadron, and spoke on issues
surrounding the remotely piloted aircraft community and how leaders are
combating low retention rates and stressors.
James touched on these points and other related Air Force issues while
addressing Ellsworth Airmen at an all-call Monday afternoon. She
provided an update on Air Force policy changes and outlined her
priorities as Secretary of the Air Force, followed by a question and
"The three top priorities I am always focused on are taking care of
people, balancing the needs of readiness today with the Air Force of
tomorrow, and making every dollar count," James said.
The Secretary was accompanied by her spouse, Frank Beatty, who spent
part of his time learning about the support the 28th BW provides to its
Airmen and families. He met with Youth Center staff to discuss child
care programs, visited the Airmen's Ministry Center known as Higher
Grounds, and toured the Bone Yard thrift store.
James thanked Ellsworth's Airmen for their contribution to the Air Force.
"What I ask of all of you is please continue to do what you do best,"
James said. "You are making a difference in a troubled world. Please
continue to focus on the mission, focus on each other and focus on