18th Air Force command chief visits Travis AFB

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Christian Conrad
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – In a visit spanning over a half dozen agencies, Chief Master Sgt. Chad Bickley, 18th Air Force command chief, attempted to run the gamut of capabilities possessed by Travis Air Force Base, California, July 30, 2021.

Bickley, whose sat in the 18th AF command chief seat since November 2020, was eager to take a deep dive into the Travis AFB culture in respect to both its mission and people.

“Travis will always have a special place in my heart,” said Bickley. “My family and I loved our time here. I love the mission, the culture, the people and local community. Travis has and will always be pivotal to the security of this great nation.”

With stops ranging from the base’s Monarch Dining Facility to its Phoenix Spark innovation lab to its aircraft, Bickley was able to see the many facets of Travis AFB, dropping the ever-reliable nugget of wisdom and also his own hopes for the Air Force.

Suicide prevention and the importance of diversity within the Air Force were among the topics touched on by Bickley.

“If I get injured down-range by an attack, am I concerned about the race, gender or marital preference of my first responder?” Bickley asked a group of Airmen during his visits. “Of course not! My only concern is can they perform the mission we’ve assigned them to do to standard. If we have a small pocket of Airmen in our formations that have concerns about race, gender and marital preferences, they need to get over it. We’re going to treat everyone with dignity and respect.”

With the suicide rate among active duty service members on the rise, Bickley also reiterated the importance of taking a break—something he views as vital to keeping the Air Force the world’s finest.

“There is a worldwide shortage of mental health providers,” Bickley said. “For now, we’ll continue to pursue more resources, but this is the hand we’ve been dealt and we need to lead through it. Additionally, we need to continue emphasizing to our Airmen it’s okay to take a knee and ask for help.”

Bickley also stopped by Travis AFB's flight line, where he toured the base’s mobility aircraft and witnessed procedures used by the base’s 60th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron.

Bickley gave special credit to the crews who during the COVID-19 pandemic, played a pivotal role in both mitigating the spread of the virus and providing aid and hope to areas most affected.

“Our aeromedical evacuation folks are true professionals,” Bickley said. “These Airmen led brilliantly through the COVID crisis and saved a lot of lives. It’s a tough job, but they exhibit ‘Excellence in All We Do’ every day. I’m very proud of them.”

The visit was punctuated by a senior noncommissioned officer induction ceremony that saw Bickley read the SNCO charge for the newly-minted master sergeants and with it, gave some advice for the future leaders of the Air Force. 

“Are we a perfect Air Force?” he asked. “No. But we are the best Air Force in the world. So before you level criticism at our organization, we need to ask ourselves, ‘What am I doing to make it better?’ Look inward before outward. Am I asking my Airmen to do something that I cannot or will not do? At the end of the day, our young Airmen are the future of the Air Force and deserve nothing but the best from their leaders.”