Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz thanks Airman 1st Class Kory Lindbom, a firefighter at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. , Dec. 24, 2009, for being an important part of the Air Force team and the 90th Missile Wing mission. The general and Mrs. Schwartz visited the base during Christmas to thank Airmen in 24-hour work centers and to reinforce the Air Force's commitment to the nuclear enterprise. (U.S. Air Force photo)
BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AFNS) -- The Air Force's top uniformed officer and top enlisted leader each visited Air Force Global Strike Command wings for Christmas, spending the holiday with Airmen charged with the nuclear strategic deterrence mission and global strike operations.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz visited F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. while Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy visited Minot AFB, N.D.
The two leaders had spent the Thanksgiving Day holiday in the Central Command area of responsibility, visiting deployed personnel supporting ongoing operations. The trips to the missile wings gave the leaders an opportunity to highlight what General Schwartz called the "profoundly important deployed in-place mission. "
"The nuclear deterrence mission serves as an important national security backdrop for America and its allies," said General Schwartz. "What these Airmen do every day is critical to our nation's defense, 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and always under challenging conditions. "
Marking the point, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day had wind chills below zero in Wyoming and North Dakota, conditions faced regularly by personnel assigned to these locations.
While at F.E. Warren, General Schwartz and his wife visited with Airmen assigned to the 20th Air Force and the 90th Missile Wing to thank them for their service.
The couple visited personnel on duty over the holiday, hitting 24-hour work centers for law enforcement and maintenance operations as well as the fire department and the base command post. They also visited missile crews and had Christmas lunch with military members and families at a missile alert facility.
Col. Greg Tims, 90th Missile Wing commander, said the general's visit was a testament to the importance of the unit's and the AFGSC mission, a sentiment not lost on the Airmen under his command.
Senior Airman James Himes, 90th Missile Security Forces Squadron, said, "He's taking time away from his family during the holidays to come spend time with us when we're away from our families, and I appreciate that. "
A few states to the north, Chief Master Sgt. Roy visited with the men and women of Minot AFB, where he echoed appreciation for Airmen who are serving in mission areas key to the nation's security.
"I came here because it's important to see how our Airmen are supporting the president and combatant commanders by providing combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations," Chief Roy said. "Minot is a 24-hour-a-day operation supporting our nation, and our Airmen have been on alert providing this safe, secure capability for more than 50 years. "
Minot AFB, with the 91st Missile Wing and nuclear-capable 5th Bomb Wing, is the only base in the U.S. Air Force with wings supporting two legs of the nation's nuclear triad. The chief's visit to the Air Combat Command base included both wings. The 5th BW and all of Minot will fall under AFGSC starting Feb. 1. ICBM missions transferred to the AFGSC Dec. 1.
Chief Roy dined with Airmen on Christmas Eve and attended services at the base chapel. On Christmas Day, he visited with security forces and with fire department, command post and medical personnel. He also toured a missile alert facility during his visit.
Tech. Sgt. Matthew Luetkemeyer, a firefighter with the 5th Civil Engineer Squadron, had the opportunity to provide Chief Roy a tour of his facility.
"I think it's a great display of support for our team here at Minot, and in turn, for Airmen around the globe (to see) Air Force leaders taking time from their own families during the holidays," the sergeant said. "It's also a great opportunity for the Airmen to meet their leaders face to face. "
Col. Ferdinand Stoss, commander of the 91st Missile Wing, served as host for Chief Roy's visit to Minot.
"It was our honor for the chief master sergeant of the Air Force to spend this holiday in support of our warriors serving Team Minot 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said. "This visit clearly indicates the emphasis of the Air Force's senior leadership has for the vital missions performed at Minot AFB. The personal touch by Chief Master Sgt. Roy provided a huge vote of confidence to the Airmen of the bomb wing and missile wing. "