ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England — Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley paid a visit to the 48th Fighter Wing July 22 to meet with wing leadership and speak with airmen serving in England.
While here, Donley had lunch with base airmen at the Knight's Table Dining Facility.
"This is my first visit to the 48th Fighter Wing," said Donley. "With 30 percent of U.S. Air Forces in Europe's manpower stationed in England, you provide some especially impressive capabilities in this part of the world."
Donley toured various 48th FW facilities during his visit. While visiting the 48th Medical Group, Donley viewed a medical training demonstration of treatment for injuries from improvised explosive devices.
"The medical community is doing great work supporting the joint team," said Donley "And it is greatly appreciated."
During a visit with the 48th Force Support Squadron, children held a banner welcoming the secretary. They also performed a brief scene from a play they were rehearsing, which left the secretary applauding with a big smile on his face.
Donley also visited the 48th Maintenance Group engine shop and the Strike Eagle Complex, where he was briefed on successful missions from the 494th Fighter Squadron's recent deployment to Afghanistan.
A highlight of Donley's tour was an opportunity to sit in the flight engineer's seat of an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, where he observed a medical evacuation exercise from a pararescueman's point of view.
The Air Force secretary ended his visit with an "All Call" in Hangar 7, addressing the 48th FW, along with the 100th Air Refueling Wing and 352nd Special Operations Group from RAF Mildenhall. There he recounted how impressed he was with what he had seen that day.
"You are a crucial center of gravity in our support to U.S. European Command," Donley said. "Our allies--Bulgarians, Romanians, Poles and many others, are all seeking closer relationships with us. They want to learn from you."
In an era of ever-changing requirements and budgets, the Air Force should be prepared to squeeze out every efficiency possible to make sure money is available for equipment and Airmen, Donley said.
"As great as the Air Force is today, we should all want to leave it better than we found it and strive for further excellence," he said.
Donley told the 4,000 gathered airmen that he is often asked what he considers the best part of being secretary of the Air Force.
"The answer is, getting out to meet you the airmen who are getting the job done," he said. "It's an honor to serve with you."