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AFNORTH CC hosts Commander's Call

  • Published
  • By Mary McHale
  • AFNORTH Public Affairs
Citing past mission successes and looking forward to future operations, the Continental U.S. Aerospace Defense Command Region-1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern) commander hosted a Commander's Call Nov. 19 at Horizons Community Center.

Lt. Gen. William Etter, CONR-1st AF (AFNORTH) Commander, gave his thanks and praise for the hard work of the combined audience, who came from both AFNORTH and the 601st Air and Space Operations Center.

He mentioned several contingency operations and included Joint Task Force Cabo San Lucas, which represented a first-ever operation to evacuate American citizens from Mexico following a devastating hurricane. He then went on to list others such as Ebola response and Vigilant Shield 15.

"It's a good thing we do our mission so well," Etter said. "JTF Cabo was a first and a really big deal on so many levels. And it happened when all the organization's senior leadership was off station, that's what I'm really proud of. It was an excellent job by the entire enterprise."

As he looked to the future, Etter talked about the upcoming end of the wildfire and hurricane seasons, a variety of distinguished visitor events and the holidays. He urged audience members to take the holiday time to "recharge" but remain mindful of those who will be on duty, ensuring the 24/7/365 mission goes on without fail.

"Those on duty through the holidays protect us and we deeply appreciate that," he said.

Throughout his various remarks however, the general returned to a common theme - taking care of each other and ensuring each other's safety.

"When you see someone is in trouble or having problems, be there to reach out and help find resources," Etter said. "It makes all the difference in the world."

His command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Ronald Anderson, also stressed this point during his remarks, with the chief emphasizing the importance of the wingman" concept using the story of "Pardo's Push." That was the story of two F-4 Phantom aircrews on a mission in Vietnam. When one was severely damaged by enemy fire, his wingman, then Capt. Bob Pardo, instructed the other pilot to drop his tailhook. Then Pardo eased forward and gave intermittent "pushes" to keep the other aircraft aloft until they reached an area where they could all bail out.  They did and all four survived.

"That's the ultimate example of 'I Will Never Leave an Airman' behind and epitomizes what it means to be a wingman," Anderson said.

Following the remarks portion, Etter gathered the entire audience together at the front of the room to record a happy-holiday message to be broadcast as part of the CONR-1st AF (AFNORTH) NORAD Tracks Santa video project.

"The people in this organization work hard to protect our homeland throughout the year, often behind the scenes," Etter said. "I just wanted to put faces to this organization and this was a perfect opportunity to do that."