Congressman Gaetz visits Duke Field

  • Published
  • By Michelle Gigante
  • 919th Special Operations Wing

It is not everyday Citizen Air Commandos get the opportunity to meet their congressman and highlight the unique skills and training they bring to the joint fighting force. Last week, Rep. Matt Gaetz, from Florida’s First District, visited the 919th Special Operations Wing to see firsthand the wide range of mission sets and capabilities Airman here provide to the warfighter, whenever, wherever America needs them.

“It was great to have Representative Gaetz here to see what 919th does and to understand the variety of roles and contributions we make to the Air Force and Department of Defense,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Gorsuch, 711th Special Operations Squadron commander. “It was also rewarding to share some of our success stories and to have him as our advocate for some of the challenges and struggles we face.”

After an informal discussion with senior leaders and Honorary Commanders, Rep. Gaetz toured various facilities and viewed some static displays of the C-146A Wolfhound aircraft, including an all-terrain vehicle operated by the highly trained 919th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron Deployed Aircraft Ground Response Element, and an exhibit featuring a variety of tactical communications equipment set-up by the 919th Special Operations Communications Squadron. 

During the walk-around inside an aircraft hangar, the congressman heard mission overviews from the pilots and loadmasters, combat aviation advisors, aircraft maintainers, and tactical communications specialists.

"It was a privilege to meet Representative Gaetz during his visit to Duke Field,” said Master Sgt. Daniel Corman, 919th SOCS tactical communications specialist. “I am proud of the work we do as the sole Special Operations Communications Squadron in the United States Air Force Reserve. To be able to share our accomplishments and the importance of our highly specialized mission was an absolute honor."

The congressman’s visit to the wing opened the table for one-on-one candid responses regarding quality of life, personnel, programs. Items of note focused on factors hindering readiness, topics ranging from childcare to aging infrastructure.

Furthermore, members of 919th SOW took the opportunity to express the unique attributes the Reserve bring to the fight with the transforming future threat of adversaries. Airmen and other attendees emphasized the importance of retaining military experience within the local community. Discussions revolved around how the Reserve offers active-duty members leaving the service an option to maintain that specialized experience they have acquired in active duty and, in turn, improves response time, access and surge capacity for Air Force Special Operations Command.

Concluding his trip, Gaetz thanked Team Duke and shared his impressions from the visit.

“I am thrilled, and I am touched by the unique nature of Duke, where people are not passing through, like sand in the hourglass,” said Gaetz. “Folks are committed not only to the mission and the country but to Northwest Florida and that makes it a special installation and certainly one we are going to advocate for in the future.”