Niagara Airmen embrace change
By Senior Master Sgt. Ray Lloyd, 107th AW
/ Published June 14, 2015
Niagara Falls Reserve Station -- Embrace change. Don't fight it.
That was the message the Command Chief Master Sgt. of the Air National Guard, Chief Master Sgt. James Hotaling had for Airmen of the New York Air National Guard's 107th Airlift Wing on Saturday June 13.
"Embrace the training. Own it! Be the best Airmen," said Hotaling. "Strive to exceed the standards. Be professional and have pride in what you're doing."
Hotaling, the top enlisted person of the Air National Guard, said he keeps his finger on the pulse of the enlisted members of every state, territory and district National Guard units.
He spent the drill weekend meeting with Airmen and listening to their concerns as the wing converts from operating the C-130 to the MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft mission.
"Chief Hotaling's speech was dead on," said Master Sgt. Venita Jackson, who works in the 107th Military Equality Office. "He helped us to understand that change is inevitable, and adapting is key. I appreciated his mantra; Be a Victor, not a Victim," she said.
Many members of the 107th are cross-training into new career fields due to the mission change. These changes are creating challenges that Airmen are facing including, being away from their families for long periods of time, missing time from their civilian careers and having to put college on hold, Hotaling acknowledged.
Airmen have to have commitment to the profession of arms and the health of the force, he said. Airman have to accept that fact that once they complete their initial training for the new mission, they have to travel to other bases in order to stay current in their Air Force responsibilities until the 107th is fully-operational in 2017, Hotaling said.
Hotaling spoke at an enlisted all-call at the base theater. Hotaling talked about the lessons he has learned from when he was starting out as a Senior Airman all the way up to the highest enlisted person in the Air National Guard. He spoke about his experiences and passed on his wisdom to the Airmen listening to him. He made examples of Niagara Falls unit members: encouraging the newly enlisted to stay strong and reminding the seasoned vets to remember what it was like as a new member.
"As senior noncommissioned officers, remember where you came from" Hotaling said. "Be there for your Airmen, help built their resume' and recognize their accomplishments."
The chief also spoke about the four domains of Comprehensive Airman Fitness; Mental, Social, Spiritual and Physical Health, and their impact on Airman's success.
"The chief is a very strategic thinker and a great resource of information", said Master Sgt. Edwin Irizzary a chaplain's assistant for the 107th AW. "Having a direct line to Chief Hotaling is a great experience for us at Niagara."
The 107th has a history of change from flying the P-47 Thunderbolt in 1948 to their last fighter aircraft the F-16 Falcon in 1994 and later converting to the KC-135 Stratotanker.
In 2005, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission changed the unit's mission to the C-130 Hercules and the 107th and 914th Reserve Unit became an Associated Wing.
On April 1, 2014 a new manning document for the 107th would be converting from the C-130 Hercules to the MQ-9 Reaper, Remotely Piloted Aircraft, the unit has been abuzz with activity as it prepares for the new Close Air Support and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance mission.
"Since 9/11, the Air National Guard is now an operational reserve", said Hotaling. "We are asked to provide more support and we need to be ready for changes so that we can complete our mission."