CMSAF Bass highlights 17th TRW achievements

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Abbey Rieves
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

The cold, misty rain gusted at me as I clutched my camera on the flight line of the San Angelo Regional Airport. I watched a distant water tower fade from focus as the grey weather stormed across the horizon. 

Will they be able to land? I wondered to myself.

I was anticipating the arrival of Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass and Team 19. 

For the past three years I have been assigned to 17th Training Wing Public Affairs, I have documented many Goodfellow moments, distinguished visitors, and events, but this visit was different. 

Just like CMSAF Bass promotes Team 19, I noticed she focused on recognizing the ‘behind the scene’ Goodfellow members, such as staff in the housing office, who are in the background supporting the mission.  

Finding affordable single-family homes in San Angelo, Texas, for military members is one example these ‘behind the scenes’ members strive to resolve. Data collected by the base housing office and with the support of the local community, helped Goodfellow obtain a 6% increase in basic allowance for housing in 2020. This BAH raise allowed my family and I to move from a two-bedroom apartment into a three-bedroom, single-family home. 

But, not all families are as fortunate. The city is aware there is a vast shortage of three-bedroom options at the BAH price point. The housing shortage creates a situation where some military members are forced to purchase a home or pay rent higher than they can afford. However, the 17th Training Wing has strong community bonds and is working with the local community to find solutions together. 

I witnessed Chief Bass ask questions to learn about the agreements the 17th TRW and the city of San Angelo have and I gained a deeper understanding of  how this relationship is mutually beneficial. 

"I want to fix the housing issue across the Air Force," said Bass. "I think Goodfellow Air Force Base is the model example of what 'right' looks like."

But the housing issue here affects more than permeant party members.  

Prior to 2020, students at Goodfellow lived in cramped dormitories with up to three students sharing a room. The 17th TRW took several steps to fix this issue by creating a partnership with a local university. I remember when this agreement was signed last year. This intergovernmental support agreement is the first in the Department of Defense and provides living quarters, food service, and access to Angelo State University's recreation center for Air Force and Space Force students. I’m so proud to be a part of a force that cares so much about its members and I am so grateful that CMSAF Bass and Team 19 were able to see the results of the agreements, despite the weather disrupting parts of the tour.  

After visiting ASU, Chief Bass and Team 19 visited the 316th Training Squadron to experience how the squadron has modernized training. Bass eagerly nodded throughout the presentation. In the beginning of the pandemic, the 316th TRS moved the unclassified training portions to an online format, promoting student-driven education. Through this transformation in training, the 316th advances their capabilities on a daily basis.  Working in public affairs, I see the mission in action. Sometimes seeing that mission daily, I can lose focus of what the whole picture really is. Revisiting our important mission here at Goodfellow with Chief Bass pulled a whole new perspective and a deeper level of appreciation for what I do every day. Her leadership style absolutely amazes me with how she constantly prioritized putting the Airmen first. Even in her time crunch, Chief Bass still took an extra minute or so to connect with the students working the front desk of the 316th TRS dorms on our way out. 

The day concluded with Chief Bass engaging with permanent party members and students in two separate briefings at the base theater. The engagements discussed the National Defense Strategy and gave the audience a chance to ask questions to Bass directly.   

"It's not good enough to have a strong Air Force," emphasized the CMSAF. "We have to be a strong, unified, and integrated joint force. We have to be good in air, land, sea, cyber and space."

After her standing ovation from her briefing, Chief Bass took more time and allowed every person the opportunity to take a selfie with her.

I couldn’t help myself, and hopped in line too.