Air National Guard Director Lt. Gen. Michael A. Loh emphasized the importance of homeland defense during an Aug. 6 meeting with Airmen and community leaders.
“The homeland is no longer a sanctuary and we have to adapt to that reality,” Loh said.
Loh made the remarks during a community leaders’ session at the Eastern Air Defense Sector (EADS). More than a dozen local elected officials, business and education leaders joined 30 Airmen from the New York Air National Guard’s 224th Air Defense Group (ADG) at the meeting.
During his remarks, Loh emphasized the Air National Guard’s strengths, noting the service’s community-based foundation, resilient personnel and physical dispersion.
Communities, and families and friends, are the backbone of the Air National Guard, the general said.
“All of you have friends and families. When you go home tonight, thank them for the sacrifices they’ve made so you can serve,” Loh told the assembled Airmen. “Without their support and sacrifices, we wouldn’t have this thing called national defense.”
Loh, who was joined by his wife Dianne, was in Rome for a first-hand look at EADS. A North American Aerospace Defense Command unit staffed by New York Air National Guardsmen, a Canadian Forces detachment and federal civilians, EADS is responsible for the air defense of the eastern U.S.
Col. Paul Bishop, EADS Commander, and Col. Joseph Roos, 224th ADG Commander, led Loh’s tour. It included briefs on air defense operations, training requirements, computer network operations and support, cyber defense measures, logistics and readiness.
Mrs. Loh conducted a separate site tour, with visits to the Canadian Family Readiness Center and the unit fitness center. Mrs. Loh also held discussions with the 224th ADG’s Community Action Team, which included key spouses and the unit’s Director of Psychological Health.
The Lohs’ participated in several other activities as part of the visit. After the Aug. 6 site tour, Loh joined Airmen for a 9/11 Memorial fundraising auction, which featured a cookout and beanbag tournament.
On the morning of Aug. 7, the general and Mrs. Loh ran a 5K race as part of the unit’s Dewey Scholarship events. After the run, Loh joined Ms. Selena Dewey to present four scholarships to EADS Airmen. Administered by the Dewey family in memory of Col. Wade Dewey, a former 224th ADG Commander and former squadron mate of Loh’s, the $1,250 scholarships are provided to EADS enlisted Airmen or dependents of enlisted Airmen.
This year’s Dewey scholarship recipients were Staff Sgt. Tiera Hickson, Airman 1st Class Alexandra Tracy, Airman 1st Class Daniel Silva and Ryan McAfee, son of Senior Master Sgt. Mark McAfee.