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Secretary James meets with D.C. Air National Guard Airmen

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. – Tech. Sgt. Matthew Kyler, 113th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, answers questions from the Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James during her tour of the 113th Wing May 20. Throughout her tour, James learned about the 113th Wing mission by engaging with Airmen in their various work areas. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Erica Rodriguez)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. – Tech. Sgt. Matthew Kyler, 113th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, answers questions from the Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James during her tour of the 113th Wing May 20. Throughout her tour, James learned about the 113th Wing mission by engaging with Airmen in their various work areas. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Erica Rodriguez)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. – Lt. Col. Eric Haagenson, 113th Aerospace Control Alert commander, shows Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James an F-16 alert during her tour of the 113th Wing May 20. Members from the 113th Aerospace Control Alert facility carried out a real-time practice scramble to demonstrate the wing’s alert mission to protect the National Capital Region. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Erica Rodriguez)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. – Lt. Col. Eric Haagenson, 113th Aerospace Control Alert commander, shows Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James an F-16 alert during her tour of the 113th Wing May 20. Members from the 113th Aerospace Control Alert facility carried out a real-time practice scramble to demonstrate the wing’s alert mission to protect the National Capital Region. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Erica Rodriguez)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. – Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James watches a practice scramble during her tour of the 113th Wing May 20. The scramble highlighted the 113th Wing’s high activity alert mission protecting the National Capital Region. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Erica Rodriguez)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. – Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James watches a practice scramble during her tour of the 113th Wing May 20. The scramble highlighted the 113th Wing’s high activity alert mission protecting the National Capital Region. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Erica Rodriguez)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James visited the 113th Wing, D.C. Air National Guard, here May 20.

James is no stranger to the wing's VIP airlift mission, maintained by the 201st Airlift Squadron, as she has been their passenger nearly 10 times. During this visit, however, the secretary took the opportunity to learn about the wing's fighter mission protecting the National Capital Region.

Her visit included visiting the pilots and maintainers who support the nation's busiest alert facility,  watching Airmen load weapons on the flightline, delivering remarks and addressing questions to the broader wing at an all call, and meeting with the wing's Sexual Assault Response Prevention program representatives.

Starting her tour, 113th Wing commander Brig. Gen. George Degnon briefed James on the wing's mission. James then met with Airmen of the 113th Operations Group, learning more about the equipment regularly maintained for the pilots and the training the Airmen provide.

For Senior Airman K'Shawn Joseph, 113th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment trainer, meeting the SECAF was an inspiring experience.

"She was so personable," Joseph said. "She was open to everyone she met. I thought it was great that she took time away to meet with us. Just from meeting her, I got a good feeling about where the Air Force is heading. I do believe she will do what it takes to address our concerns."

James then met with the 113th Aerospace Control Alert detachment, where she learned about the alert mission and how the alert facility's Airmen have aided in protecting the NCR.

To demonstrate their capabilities and immediate response time to alerts, 113th pilots and maintainers carried out a real-time practice scramble during James' tour.

"We maintain the quickest F-16 alert launch in the Air Force," said Senior Master Sgt. Charles Desot, 113th ACA maintenance supervisor. "No one has a quicker response time than us. Everyone was excited to come out and show her just how good we are."

The secretary's all-call was an opportunity for James to share her broader policy priorities with members of the 113th Wing. James reassured the wing members in attendance that she was listening to their shared issues and will look for ways to improve their areas of concern.

"Being able to see and hear her discuss these topics personally was definitely an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Senior Airman Kourtney Wright, 113th Wing Knowledge Management Center. "I think she truly cares about our unit. She let us know she was impressed with our high alert mission numbers, and that she fights for us and states our case to Congress so that we can get the funding we need."

James left the unit with good impressions and good advice.

"The Air Force will continue to be great as long as it has focus," she said. "Focus on mission. Focus on each other, your family and focus on the Air Force core values."