Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, 19th Air Force commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Kristina Rogers, 19th AF command chief, engaged with Airmen at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., June 28-29, 2021, to learn first-hand the day-to-day operations at the 56th Fighter Wing.
Luke home to the U.S. Air Force’s F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-35 Lightning II initial training programs. The 56th FW’s mission is to train the world’s greatest fighter pilots and combat-ready Airmen.
During their visit, Wills and Rogers toured premier fighter squadrons and observed base facility improvement projects to include the fitness center, which is currently undergoing a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system upgrade. Base officials elected to conduct the project in-house by the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron rather than contracting it to an outside agency in a decision projected to save the Air Force $1.2 million.
“The Air Force should always be a work in progress,” said Wills. “Projects such as the gym’s HVAC upgrade show our dedication to improving quality of life and achieving readiness goals. There’s always room for improvement, and it’s up to all of us, as Airmen, to identify areas where we need to improve as an Air Force and equally importantly, to do our part to move the Air Force forward.”
The 19th AF commander met with squadron commanders and chiefs over breakfast, where they discussed how to be an effective leader in the Air Force. Wills reiterated the importance of producing great Airmen.
“As leaders, our first duty is to prepare our future leaders,” said Wills. “To be a great leader, you have to be a great follower first. This is something that sometimes gets lost in translation. Great leaders without great followers won’t take us where we need to go.”
Throughout the visit, Wills recognized several 56th FW Airmen for their dedication and contribution to the mission and expressed his gratitude for their service.
“Today I want you to remember that behind that coin, you have 31,999 other Airmen in the 19th Air Force beside you,” said Wills. “Just like you, your fellow Airmen came to work today to give their best to make our Air Force and our country better, to try and get the mission done. Your brothers and sisters in arms are counting on you to continue to do the same.
“What makes us the world’s greatest Air Force is the never-ending hard work and dedication from our Airmen,” said Wills. “We’ve got great Airmen like you who are willing to step up and lead to make the Air Force stronger each and every day. I appreciate all of the great things you do, because it makes a huge impact on our mission success. There’s a lot of meaning behind being coined, so I hope when you reflect back on this time in your life, you remember this great team you were a part of.”
The 19th AF, which oversees the 56th FW, is responsible for the training of more than 30,000 U.S. and international military students annually, in a variety of specialties ranging from manned aircraft aircrews, remotely piloted aircraft crews, air battle managers, weapons directors, Air Force Academy Airmanship programs, and survival, escape, resistance, and evasion specialists.