SecDef visits Av-Det, applauds Airmen for commitment to U.S.-Poland partnership

The snow, wind and cold could not bring down the excitement had by U.S. and Polish Airmen at Powidz Air Base on Jan. 31, 2014. The U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was coming to town to visit with Aviation Detachment, 52nd Operations Group and Polish forces and thank them for their service and commitment to building everlasting partnerships.        140131-F-VS255-014

  “It’s important that our two countries, working side by side in this effort, at this place, serve as an example,” Hagel said. “It will continue being an expanding opportunity for more joint exercises and more opportunities to work together.”

140131-F-VS255-022 Hagels speech was only about five minutes long but he got straight to the point. The Airmen took in a lot of what he said and were proud to serve at this unique location with their Polish allies. 

“What stood out to me in his speech was the interaction of how he linked the American and Polish sides together, talking about the mission with the F-16 and C-130’s and how we are going to take what we have now and just continue grow and grow our partnership,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Mark Dawkins, Av-Det, 52nd OG aircraft maintenance liaison from Springfield, Ill.    

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 U.S. Air Force Col. Robert Winkler, 52nd OG commander from Fredericksburg, Va., was thrilled to have someone in such a high position of the U.S. government visit his Airmen and solidify America’s commitment to working with the Polish forces for years to come.

“It’s always nice to have senior civilian leadership come out and visit our professional Airmen as they are accomplishing the mission,” Winkler said. “Hagel said thanks to these guys who are away from their families and out here by themselves. It is 10 Airmen doing the work of an entire wing, really.”

 The Av-Det was activated in November 2012, and marked the first enduring presence of U.S. military members on Polish soil. The Av-Det’s presence in Poland makes it possible to host multiple allied Air Force elements and serve as a regional hub for air training and multi-national exercises.

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