Secretary of the Air Force spends Christmas with Airmen in Korea

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Chris Hoyler
  • 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley visited South Korea Dec. 24 and 25, meeting with Airmen at Osan Air Base and Kunsan Air Base for the first time since being appointed to the position.

Secretary Donley said the Christmas Day stop at Osan was his first since 1991.

"Osan is much more built up than I remember," Secretary Donley said. "The base is filled with lots of infrastructure improvements -- housing, dining, athletic facilities and a hospital."

Secretary Donley was able to get a first-hand look at the infrastructure improvements that have already been made, as well as those that are ongoing due to tour normalization.

Tour normalization was a key topic of discussion for Secretary Donley and U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Walter Sharp.

"There are preparations under way for the addition of more accompanied tours," Secretary Donley said. "We are talking about the pace for that and how we need to proceed."

The tour of the Air Force's two Korean installations allowed Secretary Donley to view the service's role in the ongoing mission on the peninsula, which he said keeps the Airmen here "very active."

"The capabilities the Air Force brings to the coalition team remain critical," Secretary Donley said. "There are so many dimensions to the mission here, the mobility mission, the ISR mission, the fighter and attack mission, our Air Force is contributing across the full spectrum of capabilities that remain critical to the joint forces commander in this theater."

Secretary Donley said he felt it was important to visit with Airmen during the holiday season, recognizing the importance of their contributions at deployed locations when they'd like to be with their families the most.

"Our Air Force works 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year at many deployed locations around the world, taking care of the nation's business and watching out for the joint team," he said. "This is what we do and that work never stops."

The opportunity to visit with Airmen from both bases is the best part of his job, Secretary Donley said, and touring several squadrons and facilities at each location allowed him to meet the Airmen who are overseeing a period of transformation on the Korean peninsula.

"In many ways, our Airmen give a tremendous gift to the nation in dedicating their lives to the nation's security," he said. "That is an inspiring thing in and of itself, and to meet the young men and women who are doing that, for the entire Air Force leadership team, it makes us want to re-double our efforts to represent them at the headquarters level.

"We will do the best we can to continue to prepare the Air Force for the missions and functions that we'll be called upon for in the future, so that these Airmen coming up [through the ranks] now will have an even better Air Force when they become leaders in the future."