USAFE-AFAFRICA command chief experiences 39th ABW mission during visit to Incirlik AB

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Lovelady

U. S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa’s most senior ranking enlisted member visited the Airmen of Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, during a wing immersion Nov. 22 - 24, 2021.

Chief Master Sgt. Benjamin Hedden, USAFE-AFAFRICA command chief, visited the installation to gain valuable insight into the 39th Air Base Wing’s role in defending NATO’s southern flank.

“These visits are important because it gives me an opportunity to learn firsthand from the Airmen about their experiences at the installation,” Hedden said. “Our Airmen offer such a unique unfiltered perspective that I truly appreciate and value.”

“I’m always looking at opportunities to improve the quality of life for our Airmen, so their insights are essential to the success of the mission here at Incirlik,” he continued.

As the newly appointed USAFE-AFAFRICA command chief, Hedden emphasized his expectations of Incirlik Airmen. 

“The Titans need to pour themselves into their critical mission,” he said. “Turkey is important for the overall strategic mission of USAFE-AFAFRICA and pivotal as we move into an agile combat employment mindset. I challenge our Airmen to really embrace the mission and leave it better than they found it.”

There are opportunities that only a short tour can offer, something Hedden draws from numerous deployments and short tours throughout his 26 years of active duty experience. 

“Enjoy the opportunities that Incirlik has to offer during the short amount of time you’ll be here,” he said. “The mission will get busy and you will have some long days, but take advantage of everything the base has to offer.”

Hedden provided advice to Airmen on building resiliency, especially during the holiday season.

“When I was on a 365, the one thing I really looked forward to was going back to my room and video chatting with my family, and seeing my wife and son,” he said. “It’s been a very busy year for Incirlik, and it’s important to make sure you’re taking time for yourself and connecting with your family back home.”

Hedden also emphasized the importance of taking care of each other.

“Short tours can be extremely tough, especially during the holiday season,” Hedden continued. “Look out for your wingman not just during this holiday season, but all year round. Even though your family and friends are back in the states, you have family here. Enjoy your time here at Incirlik and be supportive for each other.”