Coming home

Col. Mark Czelusta, 314th Airlift Wing commander

Col. Mark Czelusta, 314th Airlift Wing commander

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- No, I'm not from Arkansas. I wasn't born here, and I am not a state resident. But that doesn't change the fact that my wife, Susan, daughter Madison and I feel like we're home again at Little Rock Air Force Base.

Like every other Herk driver in our Air Force, I completed several aircrew qualification courses here. I'm an Air Force Weapons School graduate through the program now executed by the 29th Weapons Squadron. And from 2005 through 2007, I was a squadron commander here as part of Air Mobility Command's 463rd Airlift Group.

The org charts have changed over the years, and the base's parent Major Command is now different. But the core of Team Little Rock is as steady as ever. We're the end-to-end, total force home of Combat Airlift, and I'm beyond honored to command the wing that represents an early step in the development of the tac airlifter's warrior ethos.

From my vantage point, the 314th Airlift Wing--America's C-130 "Center of Excellence"--has always been about five simple principles. And you can expect them to continue to remain preeminent in our perspective:
  • A mission that we take personally.
  • Standards that are unapologetically high.
  • Partnerships that make our mission worthwhile and possible.
  • An insatiable appetite for innovation.
  • An unrelenting focus on what truly matters.
Mission--Standards--Partnerships--Innovation--Focus. We'll talk more about each of them over the next few months. Let there be no doubt: They matter to every member of our team. And we will take them to the next level.

I do, however, want to say a few words about partnerships right now. For partnering with the 19th and 189th Airlift Wings is an utmost privilege. In a single stroke, they make our mission both possible and worthwhile. The same can be said for the communities of Central Arkansas, which possess unparalleled hospitality, generosity and patriotism.

To the Hyde family, thank you for your leadership and sacrifice ... Godspeed as you press on to San Antonio and Randolph AFB. To the men and women of the 314th Airlift Wing, Team Little Rock and to the people of Central Arkansas, Susan, Madison and I thank you for the warm welcome. We have indeed come home.