Lt. Gen. Everhart visits McConnell, calls for innovation

Lt. Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, 18th Air Force commander, meets the 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander, Col. Joel D. Jackson, on the McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., flightline, Sept. 25, 2014.  The purpose of Everhart's visit is to meet the Airmen within his command, and it allowed wing leadership to highlight McConnell's mission capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class John Linzmeier)

Lt. Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, 18th Air Force commander, meets the 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander, Col. Joel D. Jackson, on the McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., flightline, Sept. 25, 2014. The purpose of Everhart's visit is to meet the Airmen within his command, and it allowed wing leadership to highlight McConnell's mission capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class John Linzmeier)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- The commander of 18th Air Force, Lt. Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, visited the 22nd Air Refueling Wing Sept. 25 to 26, his first visit to McConnell Air Force Base since he assumed command in July.

Everhart toured McConnell AFB to learn more about its tanker mission and address key issues from members of Team McConnell.

Throughout the tour, Everhart became acquainted with dozens of Airmen who help carry out the 22nd ARW's mission - organizing, training and equipping total force mission-ready Airmen and KC-135R Stratotanker mobility for combatant commanders.

Everhart urged Team McConnell Airmen and civilians to reflect on the power of innovation and contribute their best ideas to improve the effectiveness of day-to-day operations. He addressed this during an all-call at the base theatre.

"It's vitally important for us to embrace innovation and for us to back our Airmen up with the ideas that they have," said Everhart. "It's up to us as leaders to empower Airmen so that they are able to express their best ideas to make the Air Force better. We are ready to investigate these ideas, because our Airmen are the ones who are going to drive the mission."

He also highlighted the importance of building stronger relationships with National Guard and Reserve partners. He stated that his role is to empower Airmen and is looking for creative ways to remove barriers that are hindering them from making bold change.

"We are trained to do the mission with the assets that we have and we do it remarkably well," said Everhart. "I'm asking for our Airmen to work with their squadron commanders to find out specifically what needs to be done so that they can execute their mission. If there are extra things that aren't necessarily helping the mission, then it's something that we can do without."

While Everhart received a comprehensive tour of McConnell's mission capabilities, his wife, Michele, had the opportunity to look closer at other base agencies. She visited the youth center, Airman's Attic, chapel, dorms, equal opportunity office and more.

"No one would ever say that being the spouse of a service member is easy," she said, "but the foundation of support here at McConnell goes a long way to take care of our families. As my husband always says - we recruit individuals, but retain families. I firmly believe that."

Before concluding their two-day visit, the Everharts were seen off by two of McConnell's outstanding performers, 1st Lt. Paulina Rudolf, 22nd Force Support Squadron Military Personnel Section flight chief, and Airman 1st Class Arrielle Conver, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron Individual Protective Equipment apprentice. Everhart presented them with challenge coins and expressed his pride for the 22nd ARW and the Airmen who run it.

"I want to thank the guard, the reserve, active duty and the leadership here at McConnell for having an outstanding base," said Everhart. "For everything it does, to fuel the fight, to getting gas to people who need it, so that they can execute their mission. I want to thank every one of them from the bottom of my heart for doing that. They do it as a shining example for the world to see. I am so proud to be your commander."