PEORIA, Ill. --
The highest ranking member of the U.S. Air Force made a surprise visit to the Peoria Air National Guard Base in Illinois Tuesday, Aug. 17.
Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., the chief of staff of the Air Force, hosted an all-call with the 182nd Airlift Wing to take questions and discuss maintaining air superiority against U.S. adversaries.
“From 1944 to 1984, we were building a fighter every 2.5 years,” the general said. “Since 1984, we’ve built about four. If we are going to win, we have to change.”
Brown said he sees Robert Emerson Bell’s art piece Wings Through Time every day he walks into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and it reminds him that Air Force advancements have slowed down over the decades. The artwork depicts airpower buildups and drawdowns up to, during and after conflicts.
“We need to know who we are competing against,'' Brown said. “They have been accelerating. We have not.”
Brown affirmed that if Airmen are to stay competitive in the 21st century, the service has to prioritize its people and set them up for success.
“We need to determine where we want to be, not just today, but 10, 15 and 20 years from now,'' he said. “To ensure those that come behind us are set up for success.”
The general then took the time to recognize the successes of three Peoria Airmen by coining them for their contributions to the Air National Guard’s federal and state missions.
Master Sgt. Cody Canfield, an operations superintendent with the 169th Air Support Operations Squadron, was recognized for his significant contributions to the Tactical Air Control Party Career field and for his efforts in the fight against extremism, said Chief Master Sgt. Douglas Turner, the command chief of the 182nd Airlift Wing.
“Master Sgt. Canfield has deployed to Syria under [Joint Special Operations Command] to defeat Da'esh in their own backyard,” said Turner. “He is also the lead for the Air Force Special Warfare for the lethality working group.”
Also recognized was Master Sgt. Stacey Hovey, a medical administration specialist with Detachment 1, 182nd Medical Group. She played a pivotal role in the initial set up of a mass vaccination site and while maintaining her home unit’s readiness, said Turner.
Turner said as Hovey was moved to assist vaccination operations at the intermediate care level geographically covering over 43 percent of Illinois, she also maintained her unit’s readiness at 79 percent.
Lastly recognized was Tech. Sgt. Annie Picken of 264th Combat Communication Squadron. She exemplified extraordinary performance as a Guardsman to both the local community and military operations abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Turner.
Picken contributed to domestic operations by setting up a community-based COVID-19 testing site in Rockford, Illinois, prior to deploying to Niger, Africa, for six months as a cyber system operator.
Brown complemented the wing’s history of high performance and its contributions to the warfight and COVID-19 pandemic. He also reiterated that Air Force advancements and taking care of Airmen are paramount for continuing to stay competitive in the global arena and to continue being the world's greatest air force.
“That’s why the mission is to fly, fight and win,” said Brown. “Not sometimes in some places. It’s anytime, anywhere our nation calls.”