PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- "I would die for you and you would die for me too," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said to Airman Keegan Atherton, 45th Medical Support Squadron medical logistics, during his closing remarks at an All Call, directly driving home his point about what makes the Air Force unique and different to him.
To emphasize his point, he reminded Atherton, and the audience, that at some point in time, "you will be the most critical person in your unit and you deserve to be treated that way," which he said is the key to this Air Force being successful.
In addition to the All Call, the general met with several representatives to gain unsolicited feedback from members of the 45th Space Wing and its mission partners to include: the Air Force Technical Applications Center, 920th Rescue Wing and the Kennedy Space Center, May 7-9, 2016.
The general also requested the same lines of open communication from the Airmen he had lunch with and for them to speak freely about topics that mattered most to them.
Of course, he asked the same of each squadron commander who attended the roundtable during his visit. He ensured the team he wanted to know what was on their minds.
Not only did the general want to know what was on the team's mind here, his wife, Betty, visited the Airman & Family Readiness Center to hear about the family programs here. She also attended a roundtable with Green Dot-trained personnel and discussed the importance of the integrated prevention program to decrease interpersonal violence across the service.
The service means a great deal to general, who comes from a long bloodline of military service. The general shared a story about the day his father pinned on his son, John's pilot wings.
The chief of staff said that day marks a symbol of the incredibly powerful and successful Air Force being handed off to the next generation to uphold a legacy that his father played a major role in building.
He also encouraged the team to look toward the future and shared three things that Airmen can do to be successful.
"Number one, you have to make common sense the first standard you apply at all times," he said. "If the rules, policy, and technical orders don't align with common sense, then there is something wrong with the rules, the policy, or the technical order. We can change them. If it doesn't make sense to you, your supervisors or commander then it is not going to make sense to anyone else.
"Second, we have to communicate better," he said. "Part of change is communication. Communicating across an organization that is global that has more than 600,000 people can be a challenge because everyone communicates in a different language."
He emphasized that everyone gets their information from different sources.
"You deserve better communication but you have to be willing to go look for it," he said. "I encourage you to talk to your supervisors and commanders and they will get you the answers."
The third thing the general talked about doing to be a successful Airman is to care a little more.
"You care about your career, your profession, your family, your future opportunity, and training," he said. "You also care about each other ... but I ask that you care just a little more."
He underlined that every now and then we lose a little focus and something may go wrong in an Airman's life, to where they will need to be cared for.
In addition to offering three successful tips, he updated the team on issues facing the Air Force, such as the future of benefits, readiness and budget changes. Welsh assured the Airmen he continuously fights for their best interests.
As the budget and benefits are being worked and discussed by Congress, the general said he constantly works to defend Airmen and their ability to complete the mission.
Welsh also talked about manpower concerns, and emphasized that Airmen are still charged with the awesome responsibility to uphold and ensure the nation's defense.
"Keep doing well at your job because nobody in the world is better at it than you are," he said.
Welsh concluded the All Call by thanking the team for their service and what they represent.
"I can't tell you how proud I am of the work you do, the way you do it, and how proudly you represent, not just the Air Force, but our nation," he said. "Don't forget what you represent to everyone else outside of the United States Air Force. Don't forget the value of this country and what it stands for ... And, don't forget that this country leans on you to protect them. That is why you stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people around you and that is why I am so proud to stand behind you."
Between the general and Atherton, a millennial, there were four generations in the audience. The general said that every one of them has been wonderful for our Air Force.
"What is fantastic about these generations is that they come into our Air Force and bring new perspective and new solutions," he said "All of the things that make us and our future better."
After the All Call, Welsh opened the floor and fielded questions from the audience. Questions asked were focused on: energy-saving plans, policy changes, space strategy, innovative ideas, physical fitness testing, balancing budgets, education, training and more.