BELLE CHASSE, La. – Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice, director of the Air National Guard, visited the 159th Fighter Wing, Louisiana Air National Guard, at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans Nov. 2-3 to meet with wing leadership and Airmen and learn about their mission.
Accompanying the general was his wife, Nancy; Chief Master Sgt. Ronald Anderson, command chief of the ANG; Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, the adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard; Brig. Gen. Peter R. Schneider, the assistant adjutant general of the LA ANG; Chief Master Sgt. Allan Floyd, the state command chief of the LA ANG, and Chief Master Sgt. Gerald Raynal, the command chief of the 159 FW.
Rice and Anderson were escorted around the Wing to various shops to see Airmen performing their jobs. Rice spoke to Airmen at two assemblies, where Airmen could ask questions. Rice emphasized the importance of self-care and maintaining a sense of balance that is crucial to resiliency among the force to stay mission ready.
"How you respect and take care of each other and how you look to the left and right of you and how you respect them is how they respect and take care of you," said Rice. "When the unit is taking care of each other, I see things like off-the-chart recruiting, off-the-chart retention, off-the-chart mission capability rates and aircraft availability rates and a 10 to 15% capability rate above any other unit in the world. That happens because you are a high-performance individual with teamwork that is exceptionally capable. To all of you and what you have done and how well you do this teamwork and fly, fight and win for our Air Force is impressive."
Anderson emphasized the importance of family, not only in the personal lives of Airmen but also for the Guard family as a whole.
"General Rice, Nancy and I have been to a lot of Wings to understand who you are and how to advocate and make sure that there is an organization here for all generations," said Anderson. "... We really want to understand what you need to continue your success. Because you are so good, I want to say thank you for what you do and thank you for the sacrifices that you have made and thank you for the sacrifices that your family makes for you to able you to be here."
Staying up to date on training and maintaining the excellence that comes with being in the ANG has helped the Wing achieve its place in the top three most outstanding units in the country.
"The Wing has been a part of all the major operations and storms and has worked hard to stay mission ready and capable," said Col. Matthew Rippen, commander of the 159th.
Rice praised the unit for helping to restore hacked school network systems so that school in affected parishes could start as scheduled.
Tech Sgt. Tia Rutherford, a safety specialist, said she appreciated the visit from ANG leaders.
"It's always good to have people of leadership that are willing to sit down with the Airmen and talk to them candidly, but to also show that their words are true and that they put action behind it," said Rutherford.
Rutherford was coined by Rice and Anderson for her accomplishments and contributions to the Wing.