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151st ARW/CC reviews 2009, prepares for busy New Year

Official photo of Col. Kelvin G. Findlay, 151st Air Refueling wing commander. 
U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Burke Baker

Official photo of Col. Kelvin G. Findlay, 151st Air Refueling wing commander. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Burke Baker

SALT LAKE CITY -- Interview with Colonel Kelvin G. Findlay, 151st Air Refueling Wing commander

1) What do you feel was the wing's greatest achievement last year?
Our opportunity to continue to deploy and feel like we made a contribution to the whole effort. That's what brings us all together and develops that feeling of camaraderie.

2) What other accomplishments were made?
We continue to grow and work together better with our associate units. We really tried our best as the 299th drew down to help them through that period. We took in a lot of their folks that hadn't earned a retirement yet, and were able to bring them into different slots in the wing - and they are making a real contribution. As a base, we continue to work together and cooperate with each other.

3) What other deployments or TDYs were we involved in?
We had a big deployment to Turkey in the spring. Those trips are always a good opportunity for us to do something together as a wing. Throughout the year, many others have deployed from different parts of the base to support the Air Force mission, which is so important. We had crews travel to Geilenkirchen, Germany to provide air refueling training to NATO AWACS, and the 169th IS was busy participating in a ground-breaking deployment to Africa.

The Guard also participated in a tremendous staff ride where some of our senior leadership traveled to Normandy. I hope the lessons we brought back will make us better officers and leaders. I think it left an impression and it was a great experience.

4) What were some of the challenges over the year?
We're at 107 percent manned right now, which is an interesting challenge because it means there are a lot of people out there who want to join us, but unfortunately, we can't accept as many people as we would like. For the first time in 30 years, the selective retention process has become an important tool for us to use. I would say that one of our greatest challenges this past year has been to really go through that selective retention process and let some people go that we didn't want to...but this was essential to make room for new, young Airmen who will be the future of our Guard.

5) What can we look forward to in the next year?
Next year is going to be very busy because we are just now getting into an inspection cycle. For the wing, we have the Unit Compliance Inspection that we will be preparing for. And then in another year we will need to get ready for another Operational Readiness Inspection. We also have a big AEF coming up to the Southwest AOR in September, as well as in the Pacific in November.

6) Do you have any messages for Guardsmen in preparation for the New Year?
I would encourage everyone to work hard. I think sometimes we don't appreciate what we have out here as much as we ought to. I think sometimes we are a little bit hard on ourselves and hard on each other. I would encourage everyone to continue to work together and go out of their way or their comfort zone to help each other out, and to encourage each other, to take care of each other, and to be a good wingman - both in the job and also on a personal basis. I think if we do that we'll be a better wing and a better base as a whole. We're also going to continue and try to do more things to get us together as people and help us appreciate each other as people.

7) Do you have anything to add?
As we go through the selective retention process we are tremendously blessed to have young people come in and fill in the ranks, and I think each year we get a little better. It's hard to imagine that because we have such good people in our senior ranks, but the young Airmen coming up are even better. We're proud of our people, we have tremendous and total confidence in our people, and it's a great thing and a blessing to be a part of this Utah Air Guard.