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AF leaders visit Kadena to thank Airmen

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III talks to 18th Wing Airmen and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody listens during an Airman’s call on Kadena Air Base, Japan, Aug. 21, 2013. During their visit to Kadena, Welsh and Cody visited several units around the base and hosted an Airman’s call with 18th Wing Airmen, where they awarded five Distinguished Flying Crosses with valor. Welsh and Cody visited Kadena as part of a two-week visit to the region to thank Airmen and their families and discuss challenges and opportunities in the Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III talks to 18th Wing Airmen and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody listens during an Airman’s call Aug. 21, 2013, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. During their visit to Kadena, Welsh and Cody visited several units around the base and hosted an Airman’s call with 18th Wing Airmen, where they awarded five Distinguished Flying Crosses with valor. Welsh and Cody visited Kadena as part of a two-week visit to the region to thank Airmen and their families and discuss challenges and opportunities in the Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III is greeted by Brig. Gen. James Hecker Aug. 21, 2013, upon arrival to Kadena Air Base, Japan. During the visit, Welsh III and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Cody visited several units around the base and hosted an Airman’s call with 18th Wing Airmen, where they awarded five Distinguished Flying Crosses with valor. Welsh and Cody visited Kadena as part of a two-week visit to the region to thank Airmen and their families and discuss challenges and opportunities in the Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III is greeted by Brig. Gen. James Hecker Aug. 21, 2013, upon arrival to Kadena Air Base, Japan. During the visit, Welsh III and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Cody visited several units around the base and hosted an Airman’s call with 18th Wing Airmen, where they awarded five Distinguished Flying Crosses with valor. Welsh and Cody visited Kadena as part of a two-week visit to the region to thank Airmen and their families and discuss challenges and opportunities in the Pacific. Hecker is the 18th Wing commander. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, and wife, Betty, watch as Airmen play cards at the Wired Bean at Aug. 21, 2013, Kadena Air Base, Japan. The Welshes, along with Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody and his wife, Athena, met with military members at the Wired Bean and learned about its mission of bringing junior enlisted members together in a positive environment with activities such as open mic night, barbeques, various game rooms and other activities.  Welsh and Cody visited Kadena as part of a two-week visit to the region to thank Airmen and their families and discuss challenges and opportunities in the Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Hailey R. Davis)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, and wife, Betty, watch as Airmen play cards Aug. 21, 2013, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The Welshes, along with Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody and his wife, Athena, visited Kadena as part of a two-week visit to the region to thank Airmen and their families and discuss challenges and opportunities in the Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Hailey R. Davis)

Betty Welsh, wife of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, and Athena Cody, wife of Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody, spoke at the Key Spouse orientation brief at the Airman and Family Readiness Center Aug. 22, 2013, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The AFRC hosted a key spouse forum where Betty and Athena learned about various efforts and programs key spouses of Kadena have implemented in order to keep Air Force spouses informed and taken care of during stressful times like deployments and permanent change of station seasons. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Hailey R. Davis)

Betty Welsh, wife of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, and Athena Cody, wife of Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody, spoke at the Key Spouse orientation brief at the Airman and Family Readiness Center Aug. 22, 2013, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The AFRC hosted a key spouse forum where Betty and Athena learned about various efforts and programs key spouses of Kadena have implemented in order to keep Air Force spouses informed and taken care of during stressful times like deployments and permanent change of station seasons. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Hailey R. Davis)

Airmen listen to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody during their visit to the 18th Wing, Aug. 21, 2013, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. During their visit, Welsh and Cody visited several units around the base and hosted an Airman’s call with 18th Wing Airmen, where they awarded five Distinguished Flying Crosses with valor. Welsh and Cody visited Kadena as part of a two-week visit to the region to thank Airmen and their families and discuss challenges and opportunities in the Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman)

Airmen listen to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody during their visit to the 18th Wing, Aug. 21, 2013, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. During their visit, Welsh and Cody visited several units around the base and hosted an Airman’s call with 18th Wing Airmen, where they awarded five Distinguished Flying Crosses with valor. Welsh and Cody visited Kadena as part of a two-week visit to the region to thank Airmen and their families and discuss challenges and opportunities in the Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) --

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody and their spouses met with Airmen and families here Aug. 21-22.

Welsh and Cody's visit to Kadena AFB was part of a two-week tour of the Pacific to thank Airmen and discuss the opportunities and challenges in the region.

Their visit took them to various locations, to include the 33rd Helicopter Maintenance Unit, fire department and the Wired Bean coffee shop. They also held an Airman's call for Airmen stationed here where they highlighted the importance of the trip.

"Folks, we're here for one real reason, and that's just to say thank you," Welsh said. "You guys and the rest of the people around our Air Force have been working pretty hard for the last 12 to 13 years. 

"Most of you have known nothing but an Air Force that deploys constantly, so you train to get ready to deploy. You deploy and come back, and you train to get ready again. We're just here to say thank you for everything you contribute to our nation and to our Air Force," he added.

Cody shared the general's sentiments and added that Airmen have to continue to support each other through adversity.

"There's a lot of sacrifice going on, so we have to take care of each other in a very deliberate way because if we don't, we will crumble at the very foundation of what makes us so strong, our people," Cody said. "Our greatest strength as an Air Force isn't all of the cool stuff that we see sitting on the ramp. It isn't all of the things that we are talking about buying and the things you see us doing around the world. It's the people; it's the families that support them." 

Welsh and Cody also took time to honor five Airmen from the 33rd Rescue Squadron with the Distinguished Flying Cross with valor for their heroism during a deployed rescue mission.

"Not everyone is going to earn this medal," Welsh said. "The distinguished cross is a big deal. It indicates in this case that they showed valor in combat. These (Airmen) and the (pararescuemen) and the rest of the crew members who accompanied them, risked their lives to save others, and it just makes me and the chief incredibly proud to be here to recognize them."

In addition to the medal presentation, Welsh spoke about several key issues affecting the Air Force, to include civilian furloughs, sexual assault, tuition assistance and sequestration.

He emphasized the need for making common sense decisions and eliminating needless work-flow processes. The chief of staff charged all Kadena AB Airmen with identifying inefficiencies and unnecessary work at their level.

"If it makes absolutely no sense and doesn't make your people better or help you do the mission better, then just quit and tell your boss you are doing it," Welsh said. "Figure out where your people are spending most of their time and figure out how to save them time." 

Welsh also stressed the need for communication in the chain of command and the need to care for each other as the Air Force continues to evolve. He scored the importance of genuinely getting to know the Airmen around you.

"Every Airman has a story," he said. "If you don't know the story, you can't lead the Airmen. It's that simple.

"We have to know each other better," he added. "If we know each other better, we will take care of each other better. If we take care of each other better, we will trust each other more, and people will come to you for help when they need it. That's the Air Force I want to be part of. That's the Air Force I believe I signed up for."

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