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AETC commander tours Keesler
Al Ciampa, 81st Aerospace Medicine Squadron, assists Chief Master Sgt. Gerardo Tapia, Air Education and Training Command command chief, as he uses a kettle bell during a warfighter fitness workout June 11, 2013, at the Dragon Fitness Center, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Throughout a two-day visit, Rice, his wife and Chief Master Sgt. Gerardo Tapia, AETC command chief, toured various facilities, spoke to various groups and held an ‘all call’ for Keesler personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)
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AETC commander tours Keesler

Posted 6/13/2013   Updated 6/13/2013 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Stephan Coleman
81st Training Wing Public Affairs

6/13/2013 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Gen. Edward Rice Jr., commander of Air Education and Training Command, met with Keesler Airmen during a tour of the base June 10-11.

During the visit, Rice, Chief Master Sgt. Gerardo Tapia, AETC command chief, and Teresa Rice, the commander's spouse, talked with groups of students and permanent party members to recognize Keesler's accomplishment and discuss the future of training.

"This base is one of our real leaders in cost conscious culture because people are starting to figure out that there are thousands of opportunities to save money all around us, every day," said Rice, in regards to the C3 program he established in 2011.

A base's atmosphere is evident right from the start of a visit, and it's in the attitude of the personnel more than anything else that contributes to a base's excellence, Rice said.

"The Air Force offers all of us the same opportunities," said Rice. "We all come in basically at the same rank or position as other people, and nobody cares who your parents were or what high school you graduated from. The only thing that matters is what you can contribute to the mission."

The general and command chief both focused on communication during their tour, holding small meetings around the base and spending the majority of an 'all call' answering questions from the crowd.

Many of the questions asked of the leadership were directed toward the future, in search of wisdom accrued from their collective 60-plus years in the Air Force.

"The one thing that saved me as a young Airman when I was at Keesler was that I had a strong work ethic," said Tapia. "I took on tasks nobody else would without question. The best advice I can give to Airmen is to do the best you can. If this is important to you, if wearing this uniform and being an Airman is how you want to provide for your family, you have to fight for it, protect it with everything you have. The uniform doesn't make you a warrior, your heart and mind does."

Adding to the chief's advice, Rice reinforced the importance of the Air Force's wingman culture, where each Airman is expected to look out for one another throughout personal and professional challenges.

"We need to continue to have high expectations of wingmen," Rice said. "Not only to take care of ourselves, but to have the personal responsibility to ensure we are a good wingman for someone else."

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