JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --
Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein visited the 62nd Airlift Wing here to see firsthand how operations within Team McChord have been continuing to provide airlift support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This has been an interesting journey for all of us,” said Goldfein during his June 18 visit. “I could not be more proud of the leadership here and how they approached this challenge. As our Nation has hunkered down during this pandemic, it’s needed to move more and more by air, not just across the nation, but globally. We’re a global superpower because of global reach. There’s no more important place for global reach than right here.”
At the beginning of Goldfein’s visit, Col. Erin Staine-Pyne, 62nd Airlift Wing commander, briefed him and other Team McChord leaders about how COVID-19 has affected McChord Field.
“COVID has been a tough challenge for McChord,” Staine-Pyne said. “Certainly not just for our Airmen, but also for our families. I think it’s a mixture of concern for your health and also a push to maintain our readiness and execute the mission our nation expects us to do. While it has been tough to balance those two things, we really have done that well and it’s evident in the health of Airmen right now.”
Goldfein continued his tour to see in-depth the operations at the Western Air Defense Sector, 62nd Maintenance Squadron, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and the 4th and 7th Airlift Squadrons.
“The heartbeat of our Air Force is the squadrons,” Goldfein said. “It’s the squadron command teams that have been proactive and creative in making sure they have identified those who are of the highest risks and taken appropriate work place measures and adjusted accordingly.”
Several Airmen were coined by Goldfein for their outstanding performance and creative innovations to continue their mission during the pandemic. Each interaction provided Goldfein an opportunity to speak one-on-one with Airmen and learn more about them.
In addition, Goldfein met with Team McChord Airmen who have endured hardships because of the pandemic.
“I am one of those believers that every challenge in life presents an opportunity,” he told them after listening to their accounts. “Your stories show the importance of team resiliency. It ensures no one goes through the challenge alone. It’s the resiliency of our team that ensures no one goes through it alone.”
After seeing how Airmen at McChord are coping with the pandemic, Goldfein wanted to address the dependents of service members.
“I want to thank the families here for what they bring to the team,” he said. “We do our best as leaders, but we have to take care of the Airmen who are entrusted in our care and we have to take care of [their loved ones]. To the families of JBLM [Joint Base Lewis-McChord], thank you for being great patriots and for your courage as we go through all of this together.”
As of June 15, the Air Force has had 1,400 cases of COVID-19 resulting in 33 hospitalizations and four deaths. Leaders all across the Air Force are not taking the pandemic lightly.
“More than anything, we have to understand that we are living with the virus in our midst and that virus is cyclical,” Goldfein said. “We know enough about it to know what works: social distancing, wearing a mask and identifying early if you’re feeling any symptoms. If we can keep disciplined and diligent on the procedures we have put in place, we will continue to operate and survive. We can’t let our guard down.”