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New commander offers plan to make Lackland best base

By James Coburn | 37th Training Wing Public Affairs | Nov. 20, 2006

Lackland Air Force Base, Texas — Brig. Gen. Darrell Jones, the 37th Training Wing's new commander, said during his first commander's call Wednesday that he wants Lackland to be "the best place to live and work in the Air Force."

General Jones, who assumed command June 16, had a packed Bob Hope Theater laughing with his self-deprecating humor right off the bat and also displayed a serious caring attitude for Airmen. The commander's call also was shown live on streaming video over the Lackland Intranet.

Among ways to make Lackland best, the general said, is to implement a "Sponsorship Program" to welcome new wing members.

"Sponsorship is something I want to focus on," he said. "If we're going to make this the best place in the Air Force to live and work, we've got to take care of each other."

Elaborating, he added: "I want you to be welcomed the way I was welcomed when I came here. And that is, I don't want any Airman, I don't want any NCO, any officer or any civilian who PCSs to Lackland to be driving in thinking, 'Well, I wonder where I'm going to work; I wonder what the shop is like; I wonder where I'm supposed to live.'

"We need to be talking to them and telling them what it's like," he explained. "I want to make sure people coming here are taken care of. We either welcome them, or send them a letter telling them how thrilled we are to have them."

He also proposed that the new member's unit should send a letter to the member's parents telling them how glad the unit is to have their son or daughter here and inviting the parents to "come down and see us; it's a great base."

"So we're going to be implementing some of those things," General Jones said, "because I want you to be happy about being here. I want your family to be excited about you being here, and I think that's very important. So we're going to work on the Sponsorship Program."

The new commander started off by saying this was his "first chance to meet you face to face. You're probably thinking, 'Boy, is that all there is?'" After a pause, he added with perfect comedic timing, "That's all there is," drawing much laughter from the audience.

After introducing the wing's new vice commander, Col. Eric Wilbur, and new Command Chief Master Sgt. Duane Hopkins, he threw a few rolled up T-shirts and hats to the surprised audience. "I asked Services to give me some stuff, because I hate people coming to commander's calls and not having anything," he explained.

General Jones said one thing he has learned is the wing has "tons of award winners," and proceeded to show slide after slide of individual and group award winners. "It's really impressive," he said, and encouraged supervisors to continue submitting their people for awards.

The general urged wing members to adopt the "Lackland Standard" in making the base the best. "I don't want to see a lot of junk lying around the building," he said. "I want this to look like somewhere that you're proud to come every day and proud to bring your kids and safe-looking. I'm going to hold you responsible for your building," he said, suggesting if a weed or other problem is seen, take care of it yourself or seek the appropriate solution.

A slide detailed General Jones' reference to the Lackland Standard:

--Take care of your wingman, yourself and your family.

--This is the best place in the Air Force to live and work. You make it that way.

-- We don't maintain our standards for visitors. We do it for ourselves.

-- We're all professional Airman. Embrace the term. Live the core values.

General Jones said several new facilities are coming on line this year that will help make the base better: On Lackland Training Annex; a new fitness center should be up and running in September; the Air Force Band of the West's new rehearsal facility should be ready in October; and a big new Youth Center should open in November east of Lackland Elementary School.

He ended the commander's call with questions from the audience, earlier saying those who caught the T-shirts should be prepared to ask them.

Another Airman asked if he could do anything about drivers cutting in line at base gates.

He suggested the Airman should "write them off as a stress case, and know that you're going to live a little longer because you're a little calmer. If I could solve that I would."