Military News

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Grand Forks Airmen learn, get surprise at A/TA Symposium

by Tech. Sgt. David Dobrydney
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

11/4/2015 - ORLANDO, Fla.  -- Warriors of the North went south for the annual Airlift/Tanker Association Symposium here October 28 - November 1.

The 319th Air Base Wing on Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, sent 14 Airmen, including Wing Commander Col. Rodney Lewis and Command Chief Master Sgt. Todd Krulcik.

Opening the Symposium was U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. Welsh spoke about the history of air refueling, from the earliest experiments involving passing gas cans between moving cars and aircraft to the ongoing success of the KC-135 Stratotanker.

Welsh concluded his speech with praise for the work the Airmen of Air Mobility Command do. "I find plenty of things to lose sleep about... Global Mobility is not one of them."

Welsh's speech was followed by an unexpected high point for the Grand Forks Airmen. The A/TA presented a new award, the Tampa Bay Trophy, to Grand Forks Air Force Base honorary commander emeritus John Marshall.

Everyone was caught off guard, including Marshall.

"I was sitting next to him, you should have seen the look on his face," said Capt. Harold Brown, 319th Medical Support Squadron group practice manager.

The rest of the symposium was full of speeches from other senior Air Force leaders and seminars on topics ranging from the KC-46 Pegasus to the art of mentorship.

It was the mentorship seminar that both Lewis and Krulcik felt had the most impact. Lewis noted the seminar shifted the perspective of one Grand Forks Airman who attended with him.

"He went in thinking 'I need to do steps one through five' to be an effective leader or mentor," Lewis said, "but at the end of the conference he realized there's no cookie-cutter way to accomplish this. The tools needed to be an excellent leader and mentor will vary between different situations."

Krulcik agreed.

"Leadership requires relationships," Krulcik said. "If you can build that, everything else falls into line."

Meanwhile, another important facet of gatherings like the symposium is networking with new acquaintances and reconnecting with old friends.

Dave Faber, 319th ABW Plans and Programs, chanced to meet with an old flightmate from Basic Military Training, who is now a chief master sergeant at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico.

Faber said his old friend hadn't changed a bit. "When I get home, I'm going to pull out my basic training book and scan a picture so I can send it to him," he said, adding, "[it's a] small Air Force!"

The four-day event was capped by a speech by AMC Commander Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, who drove home the impact AMC Airmen have had over the past year and will have into the future.

"I hope you all have gained a new understanding for the complex mission you perform every day," he said. "You rock!"

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