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Commander meets Guam Reservists, employers, AF partners

  • Published
  • By Capt. Christy Stravolo
  • 624th Regional Support Group
The new commander of the 624th Regional Support Group met with the unit's Guam based Reservists and some of their employers during a weeklong visit April 21-26, 2009.

This was Col. Robert "Randy" Huston's first time visiting Guam since taking command of the group in January.

"The focus of this trip was to meet the Reservists, thank them for their service, and learn more about what I can do to help them accomplish their mission," said Colonel Huston. "I also wanted to meet with some of their civilian employers because the employer is a key enabler to our success. Our Reservists can't do the mission without the continued support of their employers," he said.

Colonel Huston met with Guam Police Department Chief Paul Suba and Guam Public School System Superintendent Dr. Nerissa Bretania-Shafer Wednesday. Both agencies employ more than 30 Reservists from the 44th Aerial Port Squadron and 724th Aeromedical Staging Flight, which fall under the 624th RSG.

"Meeting with Chief Suba and Dr. Bretania-Shafer gave me an opportunity to thank them for their continued support," said Colonel Huston. "I also let them know that I understand the difficulties they face when the Air Force mobilizes Reservists who are working for them."

Nearly a dozen Guam Reservists are currently deployed to locations including Qatar, Iraq, Germany and Kuwait. More than 90 members of the 44 APS - almost half of the squadron - are slated to deploy in support of contingency operations in Iraq or Afghanistan in early 2010.

During their meeting, Chief Suba explained to Colonel Huston that despite the unexpected mobilizations, the Air Force Reservists working for Guam's police department bring tremendous value to the organization.

"These folks are getting excellent training and they bring not only that but the professional attitude and character that is well proven throughout the military to their jobs with the police department," Chief Suba said.

Dr. Bretania-Shafer also said she recognized the value Reservists bring to their jobs within the education system.

"I can tell a difference in the way they address problems and their follow through," said Dr. Bretania-Shafer.

During future visits to Guam, Colonel Huston plans to meet as many employers as he can including those who employ a large number of the group's Reservists.

"More than a dozen of our members work for the Guam Fire Department and we also have a significant number who work for Continental Airlines and Guam Power Authority," said Colonel Huston. "I hope to develop good relationships with all of these employers so they know they can call me at any time if they have an issue they need to discuss."

The trip also afforded the commander his first opportunity to talk to the Guam media about the group's Reservists.

"I've found that the local community is very interested in who we are and what we do," said Colonel Huston. "It's important that we get the word out about the incredible job our Reservists are doing supporting both the Air Force Reserve and active duty missions."

Members of the 44th APS work alongside active duty members supporting aerial port operations at Andersen, which is one reason why Colonel Huston also paid a visit to key military leadership on the base.

"We have a tremendous relationship here at Andersen with our total force partners in the active duty and Guard, and I hope to explore how the Reserve can do more in conjunction with our partners to better accomplish the Air Force mission," he said.

Colonel Huston plans to make his next trip to Guam in June.

The 624th Regional Support Group is the largest Air Force Reserve presence in the Pacific with five units in Hawaii and Guam. The group provides the combatant commander more than 650 combat-ready Airmen who specialize in aerial port, aeromedical staging and civil engineering operations for worldwide employment.