NFL Ambassador to Asia visits Osan

Chad Lewis, a former Philadelphia Eagles tight end, hands out NFL gear to Airmen working on the flightline.  Chad Lewis is the NFL's ambassador to China and visited Osan Air Base Nov. 8.  Mr. Lewis spoke to Airmen about his football career and leadership on and off the field. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Evelyn Chavez)

Chad Lewis, a former Philadelphia Eagles tight end, hands out NFL gear to Airmen working on the flightline. Chad Lewis is the NFL's ambassador to Asia, and visited Osan Air Base Nov. 8. Mr. Lewis spoke to Airmen about his football career and leadership on and off the field. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Evelyn Chavez)

Chad Lewis, a former Philadelphia Eagles tight end, learns egress techniques on a simulated F-16 fighter jet.  Chad Lewis is the NFL's ambassador to China and visited Osan Air Base Nov. 8.  Mr. Lewis spoke to Airmen about his football career and leadership on and off the field. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Evelyn Chavez)

Chad Lewis, a former Philadelphia Eagles tight end, learns egress techniques on a simulated F-16 fighter jet. Chad Lewis is the NFL's ambassador to Asia, and visited Osan Air Base Nov. 8. Mr. Lewis spoke to Airmen about his football career and leadership on and off the field. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Evelyn Chavez)

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Chad Lewis, the National Football League's Ambassador to Asia, made a special visit here Nov. 7-9 during Veterans Day week. Mr. Lewis, a former tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams, visited with Airmen, spoke about "leadership on and off the field" at the base chapel and the Challenger Club, and gained a unique perspective of the wing's mission from the back seat of an F-16 Fighting Falcon.

"Thank you so much for what you're doing," Mr. Lewis said at the club Nov. 8. "I'm grateful to be here today ... it's such an honor for me to be the representative here for Veterans Day [week]."

As Mr. Lewis spoke about life, leadership and striving for greatness, he shared key points from lessons learned on and off the football field. Several had direct parallels to the Team Osan and Air Force mission.

Always remember what you're fighting for.

"In the pros, it was easy to lose the love of the game and look at it as just a job," said Mr. Lewis. "You've got to foster, protect and nurture that love. Football, just like what you're doing here, is something you can't do half-hearted."

Know your opponent, but never fear them.

"Prepare, prepare, prepare," he said. "You have a formidable enemy, but it does no good to fear them. All training and preparation, like last week's exercise [Beverly Midnight 10-02], prepares you to win.

Be willing to stand.

"Surround yourself with greatness," said Mr. Lewis. There are some things that can lead to a downfall - negative influences, habits or behavior, he continued.

"You're not just in the background, you're a leader and you should always live as if the world is watching," he said.

Get the right people on the bus, sitting in the right seats, going the right direction.

Through leadership and followership, he said, "we all need to be on the same page, with the same vision and understanding of where we're going and how to get there."

After Mr. Lewis spoke at the club, Col. Patrick Malackowski, 51st Fighter Wing commander, and Col. Bruce Desautels, 51st Operations Group commander, expressed gratitude for his visit.

"Thanks for being here," said Colonel Malackowski. "I wish all 5,000 Airmen and Soldiers here could have come to hear you speak. Your presence shows that people back home care."

The next morning, Nov. 9, Mr. Lewis took to the air in an F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 36th Fighter Squadron, piloted by a long-time friend, Maj. Robert Russell.

"Thanks to many hard-working individuals in the 36th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, and many dedicated leaders in the wing medical and operations groups, I was able to give Chad a look into the hearts of our Airmen in the 51st Fighter Wing," said Major Russell. "I had the incredible honor of flying Chad in the mighty F-16 over the skies of South Korea. It was an incredible experience to share with my friend of 25 years what we do here at the 51st Fighter Wing every day."

"Everywhere Chad turned he saw heart and greatness," said the major. "He was continually impressed by the teamwork, dedication, and sacrifice required to perform our mission here at Osan, even in putting just a single aircraft in the sky. Today he flew home to share the Mustangs' story with a grateful nation, and it will be all about the hard work and dedication you all display 24-7, 365."