Commander’s Challenge tests resilience

Story and photos by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Airmen assigned to the 86th Airlift Wing push a Humvee during the annual Commander’s Challenge resilience day Sept. 6 on Ramstein. Air Force Instruction 90-506 requires Air Force units to conduct two resilience days each year.

Airmen from all over the 86th Airlift Wing conducted an annual sports and resilience day Sept. 6 on Ramstein.

The 2017 Commander’s Challenge included several sporting events such as softball, soccer, basketball, flag football, volleyball, tug-of-war, a Humvee push, and many others.

Jan Devitt, 86th Airlift Wing community support coordinator, said the Com-mander’s Challenge, paired with Ramstein’s annual “Mudder” obstacle course, are the Wing’s two resilience day events per year.

“We have resilience days to create a sense of belongingness and community,” said Devitt. “It’s fun; you get out of your office, you get to pick the events you’re participating in, and you’re creating the teams yourself. It’s a healthy competition and that builds alliances and camaraderie.”

Devitt added that events such as the Commander’s Challenge give 86th AW Airmen a chance to relax and take a break from the hectic work schedule many people face in the Air Force’s European theater.

“Not only is it good for spending time outside of work, but you might see a different side to your co-worker,” she said. “This is the largest wing in the Air Force. It’s an overseas base, the operations tempo is very high and people are very busy. They’re taking time out of work to get to know one another as people, and that’s important.”

The Commander’s Chal-lenge touches on the physical and social pillars of the Air Force’s Comprehensive Airman Fitness model, and aims to promote morale through physical activity and interactions with fellow Airmen.

Brig. Gen. Richard G. Moore Jr., 86th Airlift Wing commander, handed out awards to the winning teams at the end of the event. Moore encouraged Airmen to take care of each other, citing the sacrifices and hardships that come with military life.

“I assert that this isn’t something we do enough of,” Moore said. “The purpose of this is to spend time with each other and to realize how much we have in common. We understand the lifestyle we’ve chosen and the sacrifice that goes along with our service.

“At the end of the day, one can argue that we’re all we’ve got,” he continued. “We have to take care of each other, because if we don’t take care of each other, nobody else will.”

Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Luca, 86th Com-muni-cations Squad-ron non-commissioned officer in charge of the radio frequency transmission shop, expressed his happiness at being able to participate in the wing’s annual sports day.

Luca’s 86th CS won in the 400 meter swim relay and three-legged race. He described resilience events, such as the Commander’s Challenge, as days where all Airmen can feel a common bond despite their duty component or rank. Luca, along with several other communications Airmen, are Air National Guardsmen who are on an active duty tour at Ramstein.

“It feels fantastic to win on the active duty side,” said Luca, who is based out of the 143rd Communications Squadron in Rhode Island. “It shows you how the guard, reserve, and active duty are really just one force. It keeps unity throughout wing because all the squadrons come together for one single purpose.”

Devitt said she is grateful to be able to coordinate the Commander’s Challenge, adding that it would be her last event before moving to her next duty station.

“This has been a lot of fun,” she said. “I’ve been the community support coordinator for five years at Ramstein. I think this was an excellent event to send me off on my way.”

Airmen assigned to the 86th Airlift Wing play soccer during the annual Commander’s Challenge resilience day, Sept. 6. The event promoted camaraderie and team building through physical activity and social interaction.
Airmen assigned to the 86th Airlift Wing play flag football Sept. 6 on Ramstein. Airmen from all over the wing competed in the annual Commander’s Challenge resilience day.