Leadership from the 65th Air Base Wing greets newcomers as they enter the passenger terminal, Aug. 18, 2012, Lajes Field. This tradition of greeting new arrivals at the terminal is one of the many ways Lajes takes care of its Airmen and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Chenzira Mallory)
Senior Airman Shaun Hannon, 65th Security Forces Squadron, is greeted by senior leaders at the passenger terminal upon his arrival to Lajes Field, Aug. 18, 2012. This tradition of greeting newcomers at the terminal is one of the many ways Lajes takes care of its Airmen and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Chenzira Mallory)
by Tech. Sgt. Chenzira Mallory
65th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
8/21/2012 - LAJES FIELD, Azores -- Despite being part of a small wing on a small island, members of the 65th Air Base Wing ensure that all newcomers to Lajes Field get the largest welcome possible.
This Lajes tradition - having newcomers greeted by essentially any available members of the 65 ABW - is all about welcoming Airman and their families to the Lajes team, said Chief Master Sgt. Curtis Storms, 65th Air Base Wing command chief.
"First impressions are lasting," said Storms. "We want our Airmen to know that they are so important to Lajes that we all want to come out and say 'welcome'."
Senior Airman Shaun Hannon arrived on Aug. 18 as the newest member of the 65th Security Forces Squadron. Lajes is Hannon's third assignment and he says he's never seen anything like this before.
"I felt like I was coming into Hawaii as an honorary guest," said Hannon. "I felt like I was being welcomed to a small unit that had very good cohesion."
"While it may be overwhelming at first, we want to show the newcomers that we're embracing them into our family," said Storms.
At each rotator arrival at Lajes Field's Michael Passenger Terminal, anywhere between 50 and 100 Airmen greet newcomers and others arriving on the rotator. Sponsors, supervisors and spouses, alike, are ready to help carry luggage and ease the newcomer's transition.
"When I arrived as a new commander with my wife, three children, and our dog, other commanders rallied to carry our luggage, help set-up my house and open a bottle of wine with us," said Lt. Col. Scott Hopper, 65th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander.
The greeting at the terminal is only part of the Lajes welcome. There's also preparation work the sponsors put in prior to the newcomers arrival.
"The terminal is like a show, but it goes beyond than that," said Hopper. "I know when I have people coming in, I make sure their room is set-up, the fridge is full, and someone's there every day to lend a hand if needed."
A little bit of effort goes a long way in caring for Lajes' Airmen and their families. Mike Peters, spouse of Capt. Melissa Peters, 65th Medical Group, recalls how one individual went above and beyond to assist him.
"I remember walking around the base looking for the lodging office and ended up at the Top of the Rock Club," said Peters. "There was a woman working there who went the extra mile to walk me to the lodging office so I wouldn't get lost."
Giving that good first impression helps set the tone for the rest of the newcomers' tour here at Lajes.
"After flying for more than 20 hours and feeling jet-lagged, this arrival was better than a cup of coffee in the morning," said Hannon.