The director of the Air National Guard arrived at the Tucson International Airport Thursday, touring facilities and speaking with Airmen from the 162nd Fighter Wing and the 214th Air Reconnaissance Group.
Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III’s visit to the guard units included attending an annual conference involving weapons and tactics issues for America’s air warfighters.
But reaching out and meeting southern Arizona’s Citizen-Airmen was the order of the day for the general.
“There is a broad range of support we do for the Air Force, Air National Guard and for the nation within partnership capacity and relationship building. It happens right here, and it’s done in a consistently well-done way,” said Clarke, who has more than 100 combat hours.
Accompanied with staff members and Col. Howard “Phil” Purcell, wing commander for the 162nd Fighter Wing, Clarke’s visit ranged from reviewing the F-16 Weapons Systems Trainer to getting a detailed look of operational facilities at the 214th Reconnaissance Group all the while receiving briefs from supervisors and technicians on the functions and operations of their respective units and shops.
“This visit gives me the opportunity to get a view of what their (work)life is like and how the decisions we are making impacts what they do out in the field,” said Clarke. “These types of visits are helpful for me and the staff to support them in the best way possible.”
During the greetings, the general honored guard members with his specialty coins as well. Among the coin recipients was Airman 1st Class Reid L. Dameron, Aerospace Medical Technician at the 162nd Medical Group.
“Receiving a coin from Lt. Gen. Clarke was very rewarding and I felt honored to be recognized,” said Dameron. “It gave me a sense of pride in what I do, and gives me the drive to continue working harder to achieve greater success.”
Clarke’s arrival in Tucson was a return to his professional roots as an A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-16 Fighting Falcon student-pilot.
“The aviators that have gone through training here over the years have contributed in multiple ways to national defense and support of the homeland,” said Clarke.
The general’s visit coincided with the National Guard’s 377th birthday.
“We are very proud of the militia construct, and it’s a time-tested organization, and we have a lot to celebrate,” he said. “The National Guard is a proven choice for war fighting and the first choice for homeland operations and an enduring choice for security cooperation.”
Based out of the Pentagon, the director is responsible for formulating, developing and coordinating all policies, plans and programs that support more than 108,000 guardsmen and civilians in more than 88 flying wings and 175 geographically separated units.