TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Gen. Mike Holmes, the commander of Air Combat Command, visited Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Feb. 25, 2020.
Col. Brian Laidlaw, the 325th Fighter Wing commander, and Col. Jeff Hawkins, the 325th FW vice commander, along with Chief Master Sgt. Kati Grabham, the 325th FW command chief, met Holmes to begin his tour of the base and its facilities.
The visit began with a tour of the 325th Training Support Squadron’s academic simulator and a series of briefings and discussions, before the party took a windshield tour of the base.
The windshield tour showed Holmes and his staff status of the construction and repairs Hurricane Michael which made landfall on Tyndall Oct. 10, 2018. Holmes saw the flight line, 43rd Fighter Squadron, 325th Operations Support Squadron, 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group, air control tower, 601st Air Operations Center, and the new Child and Youth Programs Center, formerly known as the Child Development Center.
Holmes stopped at the Child and Youth Programs Center to see the new building dedicated to childcare for service members and their family members. The grand opening was held on Jan. 21, 2020, and allowed more families the opportunity to receive childcare on base.
The tour broke for a lunch held at the 325th Force Support Squadron’s Berg Liles Dining Facility where Holmes had lunch with Tyndall’s squadron commanders. Holmes individually recognized each of Tyndall’s squadron commanders for their leadership and tenacity that got Tyndall through the tough times since October 2018.
“My hat is off to all the leaders, at all the levels that made this happen and have gotten where you are today,” said Holmes. “Thank for doing your part in helping us transition back into this infinite game, where our job is to stay in the game.”
The next stop was the Oasis Event Center where Holmes was greeted by more than 300 Airmen and civilian employees for a brief town hall.
Holmes began the town hall depicting the present and future mission of Air Combat Command, and how Tyndall fits into the bigger picture.
“Our leadership asked us to get our readiness back, to try to move from where we were,” said Holmes. “And because of the work of you, and people like you, we’re actually on a path to get there.”
“Everything that is happening here has an important part to play,” Holmes continued. “You guys have done more than your part because while the rest of Air Combat Command has been struggling to do that with their threats being low-sustainment or low-manning…we know that on top of that, that you’ve had to do that while moving, while operating out of multiple locations, while asking your family to make sacrifices so you can (serve). I couldn’t be prouder.”
After the commander finished speaking, he opened the floor for questions. One of the questions asked was how the future of the Air Force will look in regards to retaining the 96,000 service members currently serving in Air Combat Command.
“Are we keeping people, are we keeping the right people, are we training the right people that we need as we go forward in the future,” he answered. “We have to fight an infinite game that requires people that are willing to, and able to, stay for the long-term. My hope is to try to keep you in a place where you’re doing work that gives you meaning and purpose in what you do.”
“Part of my job is to try to give you work that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning,” said Holmes.
Holmes closed the town hall with a response to a question about a leadership lesson he had learned during his successful career.
“Getting things done in the Air Force is not based on your position, it’s based on the relationships that you have with people,” Holmes replied. “Relationships are what make the Air Force work. I am extremely proud of you and I’m extremely proud of your leadership team.”
Holmes then visited 1st Air Force where he met with several members of the command and staff.
The general closed out the day with dinner with the local Military Affairs Committee from the Bay County Chamber of Commerce at a restaurant located in the historic St. Andrews district of Panama City in Bay County.