KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Chief Master Sgt. Juliet Gudgel, command chief master sergeant of Air Education and Training Command, visited the 58th Special Operations Wing on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, Nov. 27 and 28.
The purpose of her visit was to speak with the Airmen and gain a better understanding of what they do to support the 58th SOW, AETC and Air Force Special Operations Command.
"Through the conversations with the Airmen, I learned that they are hungry for education and training,” Gudgel said about her interactions with the Airmen. “They want to be involved in improving processes, engaged in change and identify what the future looks like.
During her visit with different flights in the 58th SOW, Gudgel learned ideas from maintainers on how to move forward with technical orders. She also learned NCOs want to be partnered with industry so they can learn new methods and processes to bring back to the Air Force.
“One of the biggest conversations we had was that we have to get past, ‘We have always done it this way,’” Gudgel said. “We can't move forward if we are stuck on, ‘This is the only way to do it.’”
While Gudgel was learning about the 58th SOW and their mission, she took time to recognize some top performers.
Gudgel said she wanted to recognize Airmen for their outstanding efforts and to thank them for their hard work. In recognizing them, Gudgel learned their Air Force story about how they are getting the mission done, and she hopes that enthusiasm will carry to the other Airmen from seeing great things happening to their peers and wingmen.
On her second day of the visit, Gudgel was able to participate in four training missions with the Airmen of the 58th SOW. Gudgel went on four separate flights back-to-back over the course of six hours, witnessing a refueling and drop mission in a C-130J, aerial gunner training in an HH-60 PAVE Hawk, hoist training in a CV-22, and a rescue hoist mission in UH-1H Huey.
“Experiencing what our Airmen do every day is so different from hearing about it,” Gudgel said. “I was blown away. I have never operated a hoist, been hoisted anywhere, or sat out the back of a C-130-J and watched an HH-60 be fueled. Every moment was memorable, but the ones that stuck out the most were those conversations with the Airmen.”
In her final hours at Kirtland, Gudgel re-engaged with the Airmen who were part of her training day, debriefing and expressing her thanks for the learning experience.
“We have great Airmen executing unique jobs to teach and train future Airmen,” Gudgel said. “Pride beamed when they told me about what they were doing. The motivation translates to the action for them to want to be successful, which turns into mission success."
“At the end of the day they want to train warriors, professionalize Airmen and employ air power, and from what I saw, they are doing that and so much more," Gudgel said.