Good luck…and thanks

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Glen Christensen
  • 39th Security Forces commander
When I found out I had the opportunity to write an article for the Incirlik web page, to say I was excited would be an understatement. What do I say? What do I convey to the people of Incirlik and the 39th Air Base Wing (yes, that's for you 425th and 717th). I mean not that I have any great pearls of wisdom to pass along, but this is my big chance. My 15 minutes of "mini-fame." I'm going to be published!

At the same time I've been thinking about what to write, I've had the opportunity to sit through quite a few changes of command. The rotation of commanders here is a bit unique. Of the 14 squadrons assigned to the wing, 10 received new commanders this summer. Similarly, of the five colonels serving at the wing, three changed over. Had it not been for Col. Eric Gates, 39th Maintenance Group commander, dedicating another year to the wing, all but Col. Eric Beene, 39th Air Base Wing commander, would be new. I realize there's quite a bit more to the wing than the commanders at various levels, but the massive changeover is pretty indicative of life at all levels of the base and wing.

Anyway, it got me thinking. When I first arrived last summer, I was one of the few who changed. The team I joined in June 2009 was a fair bit entrenched. Of the squadron commanders in the 39th Mission Support Group, only Lt. Col. Dwayne McCullion, 39th Civil Engineer Squadron commander, and I were new. The Incirlik and 39th families were well established and yet we were treated like we'd been a part of the family from the beginning. It was nothing short of awesome to feel so accepted and over the course of the last year, what started as a good working relationship became even better. We've been through quite a bit and I would argue that adversity not only builds character (as the adage goes), but adversity also builds a tremendous sense of family.

As I sat through the various changes of command (and retirements come to think of it) I couldn't help but feel a sense of loss and then it hit me. The way I was feeling this summer is probably the way the folks felt last summer about our predecessors' departure. It was at this point I was inspired to follow their example. Subsequently, while I made sure I passed along my sincere gratitude to those who were and are departing, most of whom will be lifelong friends; I also took a moment to realize I could honor them best by continuing the tradition of family that they and those before them established as the Incirlik and 39th standard.

To that end, I'd like to wrap my first foray into journalism by passing along two messages. First, to those who have come before us, both in the immediate past and across the history of Incirlik and the wing, thank you for all you've done; thank you for the amazing welcome, thank you for the amazing sense of family that embodies what it means to be stationed in Turkey and most importantly, thank you for the tradition of excellence that is our hallmark specifically because of your efforts. To those who are staying and those who recently arrived, I'm very sincere when I say it feels like we didn't skip a beat. I'm very well aware that significant challenges lie ahead for us, but with the family members who now make up Incirlik and the 39th, I have no doubt it's going to be a tremendous year. My only hope is that you feel the excitement about being here that I do, each and every day. Now, to quote Lt. Gen. Charles Stenner, Air Force Reserve Command commander, in his most recent AFRC commercial, "Let's go to work!"