NCO Summit strengthens bonds between 51 FW and ROKAF Airmen

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Thomas Sjoberg
  • 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Noncommissioned officers from the 51st Fighter Wing and the Republic of Korea Air Force came together for an NCO Summit Feb. 22, 2024, at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, to foster collaboration and build on the solid foundation of partnership and alliance between the U.S. and ROK.

The summit provided a unique platform for NCOs to share insights, engage in discussions and partake in activities that fostered unity and camaraderie. Through briefings, shared meals, patch exchanges and tours of 51st FW aircraft such as the A-10C Thunderbolt II and the F-16 Fighting Falcon, participants gained a broader perspective of their collaborative roles in maintaining security on the Korean peninsula.

"The goal of the summit was to deepen the partnership and camaraderie among the E-5 and E-6 ranks, emphasizing teamwork at both the tactical and operational levels," explained U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Timothy Skelton, 731st Air Mobility Squadron operations superintendent and NCO summit organizer. “We paired 51st FW Airmen with their ROKAF counterparts in similar career fields to foster a mutual understanding of each other's operational tactics in both peacetime and war. The event synchronized our approaches and enhanced our readiness to ‘Fight Tonight.’”

The summit also facilitated new communication channels between the bilateral partners, fostering connections among front-line supervisors for future collaboration.

"I really enjoyed meeting some of our ROKAF partners and getting to know them on a personal and professional level,” said Tech. Sgt. Mathew Hinson, 51st Comptroller Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of financial operations. “I learned how important it is to build relationships with our combined team, and how doing the little things like bridging the language gap can make us more effective.”

During the summit, the NCOs had the opportunity to speak with Chief Master Sgt. Jeremiah Ross, 7th Air Force command chief, and Republic of Korea Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Oh, Kwang-Young, ROKAF Operations Command command chief, who both emphasized the importance of continued collaboration and the bonds these summits create.

Senior Master Sgt. Lee, Yu Ra, a ROKAF medic, reflected on the deeper connections forged at the summit.

“This summit not only bridged our forces but also forged deeper bonds of understanding and cooperation,” said Lee. “It's a testament to the enduring strength of our partnership. Through shared discussions and experiences, our collaboration has grown stronger and I am leaving with a renewed sense of camaraderie and commitment.”

The 51st FW plans to host future summits, reinforcing the ironclad U.S. and ROK alliance and ensuring the partnership’s strength for years to come.

"This summit is just a small portion of what our two nations work together on," said Skelton. "It strengthens our coalition partnership while also fostering an understanding of each other's cultures, traditions and combat readiness mindsets. Not every Airman on Team Osan works side by side with our ROKAF counterparts, so having this opportunity brings clarity on why we are here and what we strive to achieve: to deter aggression and, if necessary, defend the ROK."