Airmen from the 97th Air Mobility Wing welcomed Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass during a visit to Altus Air Force Base March 2.
During her visit, Bass had the opportunity to immerse herself in the “mobility’s hometown” culture and meet the Airmen behind the world’s premier schoolhouses for the C-17 Globemaster III, KC-135 Stratotanker and KC-46 Pegasus.
“It was honestly an easy choice to visit Altus Air Force Base today,” Bass said. “I could not pass up an opportunity to come spend some time with the Airmen here, learn a little bit more about the mission set and the challenges that you all have. It helps me to be the chief I need to be for Airmen.”
Bass met with Airmen in a variety of forums to learn about how they are accelerating change to prepare for future challenges.
“You really are advancing and moving the ball when it comes to global reach and projecting airpower,” Bass said. “You train and develop our future aviators. Knowing that we have got to modernize how we train the future generation of boom operators, load masters and pilots is essential when talking about accelerating the change we need in our Air Force.”
Bass went on to praise the culture established at Altus AFB, from the family, hometown atmosphere Airmen enjoy to the total-force focus that drives the wing’s ability to deliver elite, rapid global air mobility.
“I’m probably most excited about the culture that I’ve seen here,” Bass said. “I go on a lot of base visits and I love to see some of the unique things that each of our installations bring to the fight. To hear about what you guys are working toward, getting after culture and developing the next generation of leaders, is impressive. For instance, when we learned about how you include your civilian Airmen as part of your training and development programs, that is huge. That’s part of the inclusive culture that we have to get after in our Air Force.”
Readiness was also a focus of Bass’ visit, as she recognized Airmen, in part, for their roles in heightening the installation’s baseline level of readiness. Airman 1st Class Brianna Cortez, 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron material manager, Senior Airman Erin Smith, 97th LRS log planner, and Airman 1st Class Sarifhe Rolon, 97th LRS air transportation journeyman, were just a few of the Airmen who received a coin.
While reflecting on her visit, Bass took the time to share her thoughts on the value of diversity, how it contributes to an environment of belonging, and ultimately, increases readiness.
“Studies show that the most high-performing teams are teams that are diverse,” Bass said. “We are better and richer from our experiences that we all bring to the fight, regardless of gender, race, diversity of experiences, or diversity of thought. It all makes us a better team. When we can embrace that and make sure that every single Airman feels like they belong, that they’re valued, and that they can thrive, that’s when we’re able to be our very best within any organization.”
With Bass visiting Altus AFB during the month of March, which is internationally observed as Women’s History Month, for many Airmen across the 97th AMW, meeting her for the first time was inspiring and motivating.
“You can tell she was just like us,” Cortez said. “She started out like us and worked hard her entire career, and look where she is now. It just gives us motivation to keep going just like her, especially being the first female chief master sergeant of the Air Force.”
Throughout her visit, Bass consistently thanked Altus AFB Airmen for their dedication to the mission, their candid feedback, and recognized the valuable contributions of every Airman who serves.
“I want to thank everybody for their hospitality, especially at a mission where you guys are nonstop trying to get after training our next generation of aviators,” Bass said. “Taking the time to be able to share with me what you guys are doing and allowing us an opportunity to hear directly from Airmen here is pretty impactful. So, I just want to thank team Altus for all the work that they’re doing in advancing air power and growing that next generation. Every single one of our Airmen matters.”