The 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing’s mission takes place 24/7, over the span of eight geographically separated units across Europe and the Middle East; the embodiment of, “Ops never stops.”
To execute a mission this massive requires Airmen committed to the highest standards of excellence, who hold a reputation of diligence, drive and merit. Airmen who, above all else, are required to be resilient.
This meant, when Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright directed the Air Force hold a resilience tactical pause on Sept. 5, even among those with unceasing missions, the 521st AMOW jumped into action, ensuring their Airmen were taken care of, while simultaneously ensuring 100 percent mission success.
Units assigned to the 521st AMOW such as the 521st Air Mobility Operations Group, 721st Aerial Port Squadron, 727th Air Mobility Squadron and the 724th Air Mobility Squadron rose to the occasion by joining together and giving each unit a day between Sept. 5-12, to discuss suicide awareness and resiliency.
By delegating specific days to certain units, the 521st AMOW successfully continued their mission of command and control, aeromedical evacuation, aircraft maintenance and aerial port operations, while also being able to give all Airmen a chance to reflect on what resilience means to them.
All individual units had their own ways of reaching out.
The 521st AMOW, based here, had teams hold small discussion sessions focused on honest feedback and wingmanship. They also hosted two keynote speakers to discuss suicide awareness.
“I want you to know, I’m standing here as living evidence, it’s worth not quitting. It’s worth hanging on for one more day,” said former U.S. Navy Brown Water Black Beret and Vietnam War Veteran, Dr. Dave Roever.
“When you think that your worst day is today, let me tell you something, there are plans ahead of you that you’re going to prosper. You’re going to succeed, and you’re going to make it,” said Capt. John Arroyo, Fort Hood mass shooting survivor.
521st AMOW units used the day to not only discuss suicide awareness, but to also speak about maintaining good health and wellness.
The 721st APS, also based here, encompassed their resiliency day off the Hindu greeting “Namaste,” meaning “the divine in me recognizes the divine in you.” They subsequently titled their down day operation NAMAS-Day in order to promote a day focused on wellness.
“The overall idea was to make it more of a conference-style event that focused on wellness and togetherness versus a day of briefings,” said Maj. Mallory Malda, 721st Aerial Port Squadron director of operations.
The 727th AMS, based out of Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, shared stories of resilience through suicide risk factors, and hosted an amnesty hour for Airmen to share their experiences.
The 724th AMS based out of Aviano Air Base, Italy, used team-based sports and physical activity to provide Airmen with a chance to build camaraderie in an environment outside the work space.
“We went to the golf course to use the driving range, the bowling alley, and the gym for Wally ball. While at these locations, the facilitators used the informal setting to demonstrate ways of using these activities as outlets and encouraged discussion,” said Tech. Sgt. Clinton Portwood, 724th AMS non-commissioned officer in charge of the air terminal operations center.
The diversity in each of these units’ tactical down days provided evidence that resiliency in units is manifested in a multitude of ways, all of which lead to a stronger and more connected Air Force.
The wing will continue to hold tactical pauses in the future to remind Airmen they are more than just a wing, they’re a family. A family ready to carry its members when they’re down and ready to reach out when their people need it most.