07/22/12 — 9th Air Force commander: Seymour Johnson on right track

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9th Air Force commander: Seymour Johnson on right track

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on July 22, 2012 1:50 AM

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Maj. Gen. Lawrence Wells

From the cockpit of a 4th Fighter Wing F-15E, Maj. Gen. Lawrence Wells got to see, firsthand, just why the Strike Eagle is so often the weapon of choice for combatant commanders across the globe.

Inside facilities across Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, the capabilities of the airmen stationed there were reinforced.

But the 9th Air Force commander's latest trip to Goldsboro was not limited to interactions with the men and women who execute the 4th's mission at home and abroad.

Wells also got the chance to meet with those military advocates who live outside the installation gates.

So when he fielded questions earlier this week about a potential BRAC -- about what the community could do to ensure it is well-postured in the event another round of closures does, in fact, occur -- the general's suggestion was rather simple.

"If they keep doing what they're doing, that is marvelous, so my advice is, 'Don't change anything,'" he said. "What they are doing is exactly the right thing. Take care of airmen, understand when people are deployed how to take care of their families and when they come back, make sure the airmen are welcomed."

The strong ties between service members and civilians that have been nurtured over decades are critical to the longevity of Seymour Johnson.

But the value of the men and women who wear the uniform -- and the fleet they keep in the sky -- can not be understated.

"The capability that the F-15E has -- the precision-guided munitions and the ability to take the fight to the enemy -- is something that the combatant commanders want," he said. "This wing was asked for, by name, to go forward and fly where they are currently flying. But it's not just the aviation package."

It's the members of the wing's Mission Support Group Wells said have set the bar for other airmen within the 9th Air Force.

And it's the medics, Security Forces personnel and EOD technicians who perform, at home and abroad, with precision.

But there is another key ingredient for success at Seymour Johnson, the general said, looking over at his wife, Kathy.

"I would not be here today if it wasn't for Kathy. Honestly, the fact that I'm sitting here as the commander of the 9th Air Force ... is not based on what I did specifically. It's really based on the support she has given to me over the years," he said. "We've done it as a team."

The commander's wife smiled.

She understands just how important the spouse's role is in both the airman's life and his or her ability to execute the mission.

"So I do thank them every day for getting up every morning and making sure their families are intact and their children are doing well so the active duty member is able to go out and do what he does as a mission," she said. "It just does my heart good. ... It just makes you want to smile."