Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Travis CO builds on strong community ties

Travis CO builds on strong community ties
By Ian Thompson | DAILY REPUBLIC | November 13, 2009

Travis Air Force Base commander Col. James Vechery speaks at the Veterans Day commemoration ceremony Wednesday at the Fairfield Center for Creative Arts. Photo by Brad Zweerink

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE - When 60th Air Mobility Wing commander Col. James Vechery speaks in the community, he asks that whenever he mentions the phrase 'Team Travis' that the audience to shout back 'Airpower!'.

It's both a bedrock statement of what Travis is all about and a tool to further bolster already-strong community support.

'It is to excite us about what we do,' Vechery said. 'It's a rallying cry.'

This is part of the Travis commander's unflagging efforts to keep his command at the top of its game, working closely together to ensure the War on Terror gets all the supplies and fuel it needs.

'Their willingness to get out there and do what they do. It gets me excited,' Vechery said of how he feels about the airmen he oversees.

It was Vechery's grandfather, who flew for United Airlines, who inspired him as a young child to learn to fly.

Joining the Air Force allowed him to both fly and serve his country at the same time, Vechery said.

Vechery entered the Air Force in May 1988 when he was commissioned as a second lieutenant after graduating from the University of Maryland.

After serving three years as an instructor pilot, he entered the airlift world as a C-5 Galaxy pilot at Dover AFB, Del.

It was a good fit.

'We put the global in global reach,' Vechery said of the Air Mobility Command mission to get men and supplies to anywhere in the world they were needed.

Vechery took over command of the 60th Air Mobility Wing in July, replacing Brig. Gen. Mark Dillon who headed to Germany to command the 86th Airlift Wing. Vechery came to Travis from McConnell AFB, Kan., where he commanded the 22nd Air Refueling Wing.

When he heard he was going to command Travis, his reaction was 'wow.'

'There was a definite wow factor because I had heard a lot of good things about Travis,' Vechery said.

He describes Travis as 'a phenomenal base' with military members and their families who have 'a lot of pride, passion and professionalism.'

'We ask a lot of them and they deliver big,' Vechery said.

Their latest coup was scoring top marks in an Operational Readiness Inspection where Air Force inspectors put the command through the wringer to ensure they are doing the job right.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.