JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
U.S. Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Chief Master Sgt. Ramón “CZ” Colón-López, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Joint Base San Antonio July 1 as part of the 2021 USO Summer Tour.
The USO tours traditionally visit service members overseas to bring them a taste of home; however, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the 2021 tour visited five installations within the U.S., along with Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The tour focused on bringing morale and entertainment to service members and their families while giving Hyten and Colón-López a chance to remind troops that America is thankful for their service.
“We reached out to the USO and decided that we'd come to the big bases in America to meet the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Guardians, the ones who have been going through this tough year and a half as well and bring a little joy to them. So, that's what we're doing here at JBSA, the biggest of them all,” Hyten said.
During their tour of the installation, Hyten and Colón-López had the opportunity to see several of JBSA’s missions in action, including a tour of the basic military training area, a military working dog demonstration, a virtual reality flight simulation and more.
“All you have to do is meet the people and you understand that JBSA builds the future and takes care of the present,” said the vice chairman. “Whether it's the giant medical capabilities that are taking care of our wounded warriors, or the giant training bases from Lackland to Randolph that are building the next generation of Airmen – it's one of the most amazing places in the country.”
During their visit to the BMT dormitories, Hyten and Colón-López spent time discussing the training mission with several military training instructors.
“We cannot underestimate the power of the American people coming in and becoming Airmen and Guardians, specifically here at JBSA,” Colón-López said.
Colón-López, who spent time training at the former Lackland Air Force Base in 1994 during the pararescue selection course, also commented on the importance of training future warfighters.
“The next big war is not going to be fought by us. Those people are being trained here, right now,” he said.
While Hyten and Colón-López reminisced on training, Hyten said there are a couple of things all four-star generals have in common.
“We wish we could go back and do it all again,” he said. “As we walked through everything we saw today, across this entire amazing base, that's what kept going through my mind.”
The tour culminated with a performance featuring Miss America Camille Schrier, comedian Taylor Williamson, and country music duo LoCash at the JSBA-Lackland Amphitheatre. Service members and their families enjoyed a free night of music and entertainment courtesy of the USO.
“What the USO has done – what it's done for decades – is travel the world, reach out and bring a bit of home to the service men and women,” Hyten said.
“That is the reputation that this organization has when it comes to helping our people, and it is global,” Colón-López added. “They never stop, they work around the clock and you can always find a place where you can feel like you're at home.”