WILL ROGERS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Okla. --
Airmen from the 137th Special Operations Wing, here, volunteered valuable hours to support a nationwide Air National Guard conference at the National Center for Employee Development Conference Center in Norman, Oklahoma, May 9-12, 2017.
The leadership conference, attended by general officers, adjutant generals, wing commanders, command chiefs and directors of staff from across the U.S. 54 states and territories, focused on leading, protecting and supporting the 21st-century Guard Airman.
“It’s never too late for lessons learned,” said Maj. Gen. Gregory L. Ferguson, the ANG assistant to the commander, Air Force Special Operations Command, who welcomed attendees to the conference as a representative of the Oklahoma ANG. “We’ll continue to build and learn here. So to all of the Air National Guard, welcome to Oklahoma.”
Four members from the 137 SOW Honor Guard opened the event with a presentation of the colors, later receiving a coin from Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice, director of the Air National Guard, and Chief Master Sgt. Ronald C. Anderson, command chief master sergeant of the Air National Guard, for their professionalism in service.
“It feels awesome – being able to wear the uniform and to positively represent the Wing and the Air Force as a whole,” Senior Airman Sarai Chavez, volunteer 137th Honor Guard administrator and 205th Engineering and Installation Squadron administrative assistant. “It’s a privilege and an honor. We participate in the same things and in the same ways as our active duty counterparts, and I think that’s important.”
Capt. Paul Blankenship, 137th Special Operations Force Support Squadron food service officer, also sang the National Anthem, while Senior Airman Zachary Hart, 137th Special Operations Communications Squadron information technology network specialist, helped to maintain the video teleconference link during the four-day event.
Six members from the 137th Junior Enlisted Council helped setup for the event, ironing the flags of the 54 U.S. states and territories, shining the Army spears of each guidon and supporting protocol throughout the conference.
Though busy, being in the environment and experiencing the content of the conference benefited the volunteers.
“I’m getting to see the big picture of the Guard, which includes how things work and why they work,” said Senior Airman Jaimie Haase, JEC treasurer and 137th Special Operations Security Forces unit deployment manager. “As Airmen, we don’t often see that or have an opportunity to understand why everything is the way it is.”
Despite the larger, Guard-wide issues being discussed during the conference, the contributions of the 137th Airmen did not go unnoticed
“These 137th Airmen have supported the event in a way that sets the stage to showcase the excellence of the Air Guard,” said Ferguson. “We’ve always been an organization that steps up. We provide an image of the 21st century Airman that is adaptable, professional and able to solve any problem that occurs without oversight or guidance. It’s just who we are.”