Chief of staff visits Manas, celebrates Thanksgiving with Airmen

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Olufemi Owolabi
  • 376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
The Air Force chief of staff met with deployed members and Airmen during a two-day visit to the Transit Center at Manas Nov. 26 and 27.

In his first visit here since becoming the Air Force's top officer, Gen. Norton Schwartz celebrated Thanksgiving with the men and women of the Transit Center during a dinner served at the dining facility here.

General Schwartz was accompanied by his wife, Suzie, the Air Force's top enlisted Airman, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy, Lt. Gen. Gilmary Michael Hostage III, the commander of U.S. Air Forces Central, and Chief Master Sgt. Scott Dearduff, the AFCENT command chief.

"What a thrill to be able to share Thanksgiving with you and our Kyrgyz hosts," General Schwartz said. "It is an honor to be here with you all."

During the visit, the general visited the maintenance squadron, where he met with KC-135 Stratotanker crews. The general also received a windshield tour of Transit Center facilities and hosted an Airmen's Call.

In addressing servicemembers, the chief of staff talked about the importance of the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyz community and citizens, and their roles in the current contingency operations.

"Each one of you needs to be proud that we are now in a much better position here than we have ever been in the past," General Schwartz said. "So, not only are we doing the mission here, but also we are creating the circumstances that will allow the United States of America to maintain a presence here."

In his address, the general said there is no job, person or discipline that is more valuable to the Air Force team than another. He described the Air Force as a family business, in which everybody counts.

He noted the importance of working as team, taking care of each other, and maintaining Air Force standards and reputation.

"This Air Force is a big team; everybody contributes," General Schwartz said. "It is, therefore, very important for all of us to focus; to do what's necessary; to do the job the Air Force way ... 'the right way' ... and to do it that way all the time."

He also talked about maintaining standards, and how failure to do so can lead to loss of lives. Manas has done well in meeting its commitments, he said, giving kudos to Manas members for a job well done as the gateway for cargo and personnel transiting in and out of Afghanistan.

That discipline shapes the military's reputation, he stated. "Because the American people believe in and trust members of the armed forces, it is imperative for every Airman to maintain Americans' trust and confidence in us.

"Reputations are hard to gain and easy to lose," General Schwartz said. "So, each of us, in our own way, needs to do our best every day to maintain that trust. This is done by doing our job well, with spirit, with conviction, and by taking care of each other along the way."

After his speech, the chief of staff opened up the floor for questions where he interacted with the audience. Many audience members were excited to get the general's thoughts on subjects they were concerned about.

"He was genuine and he really had an understanding of what's happening here at Manas, and what our mission is. That meant a lot everybody sitting here today," said Capt. John Wheeler, who is assigned to the 376th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron.

In closing, after addressing all the questions, General Schwartz thanked the men and women of the Transit Center, and the families they left at home for their hard work and sacrifice.

"We are very proud of you all," General Schwartz said.