Chief Roy visits Kunsan

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Amanda Savannah
  • 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The Air Force's top enlisted leader visited members of the 8th Fighter Wing here Dec. 29 and 30 during a year-end tour of Pacific Air Forces bases.

During the visit, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy, and his wife, Paula, toured the base, presented stripes to Airmen who were promoted, and spoke with Airmen at an enlisted call and a chief's recognition ceremony.

One of the topics the chief addressed was the decision by Air Force officials to extend deployments to six months.

"The reason was because we realized that we've slowly crept to the six-month point," Chief Roy said. "More than half of our Airmen were already deployed six months, so that's one of the reasons why we went to standardizing deployments at six months. It also gives us an opportunity make our deployments less frequent. Although they're a little bit longer in deployment length, the frequency is not as much. 

"(It) also gives us the opportunity when we're back at home base to continue to work on training to keep up our core competencies," he said. "As the Chief of Staff (Gen. Norton Schwartz) says every single day, we're all in. We have Americans dying on the battlefield, and we, as an Air Force, will continue to do what America asks us to do."

Mrs. Roy also reminded Airmen to mark "yes" on their pre-deployment checklists to allow the home station to contact their families to ensure families are kept informed while the member is away.

"A lot of times that gets marked 'no,' and we're not contacting the families," she said. "But what we want to do most of all is make sure our families are taken care of, and by marking that block 'yes,' that will help us to be able to contact the family."

Chief Roy also discussed the 2010 suicide rate, and how Airmen can build resiliency in themselves and their families.

"Resiliency comes in a lot of different forms," Chief Roy said. "It's not just one of physical fitness; it's also one of social and mental fitness.

"But the first thing is, be a good wingman," he said. "Look in people's eyes and see how they're doing, and mean it. We do have an all-time high rate of suicides, and that's not something we're proud of, and as I said in my Enlisted Perspective, one is too many. Each one of us has the responsibility to others. I look at those NCOs and senior NCOs out there, and I specifically charge them. That's our responsibility as NCOs. Look at (Air Force Instruction) 36-2618, and it states it right there within the regulation. I charge each one of them to go out there and do the right thing. Be good wingmen, for all Airmen."

Mrs. Roy added that families can help build resiliency in Airmen by ensuring they continue to communicate.

"Communication is so important right now," Mrs. Roy added. "In today's world, communication is key. Sharing the milestones and what's going on at home, from losing a tooth, to the first day of school, all of those things keep our deployed spouse informed of what's going on at home."

One of the top priorities of Air Force officials is partnering with the joint and coalition team, and Chief Roy said Kunsan Air Base Airmen have expanded in meeting that priority since he was assigned here in 1992.

"When I was here in 1992, we didn't have Soldiers here, it was just Airmen," he said. "As I shared and talked with a few Soldiers during this visit, each one of them came to me and said how much they appreciate the great hospitality that our Airmen provide to them, and the friendships that they've encountered are life-long friendships.

"The coalition with our partner nation is also so much different than when I was here," Chief Roy said. "We only visited their compound a few times, but now I see much more exchange. We had the (South Korean) Air Force commanding general (Col. Choi Jae-Hun) and command chief (Chief Master Sgt. Choi Sang-Gi) at the chief's recognition ceremony. That says something about the partnership, that we're here together, working together on the same mission."

Though he's traveled to and been assigned to many different bases around the world, Chief Roy said there's something to be said about being part of the 8th Fighter Wing here.

"It's something that as you try to describe it to people, it's difficult to describe unless they've been there already," he said. "Once you're an alumni of the (8th FW), you're always an alumni, you're always a part of the (team). It's that sense of mission, that sense of esprit de corps, that common bond that people have here. We see the mission, we're here working together with our joint and coalition partners, to do a single mission, and that's what makes it so special."

As Chief and Mrs. Roy departed Kunsan AB, they said it was an honor to visit and thanked everyone for their service and sacrifices.

"It's been an honor and a privilege to be here, and I leave here encouraged at the morale," Mrs. Roy said. "We've been shown high morale here. I'd also like to thank the Airmen serving here, and ask them to send a message back home to their families, thanking them for the sacrifices they're making for us."