State Command Chief's all-call a virtual success

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Matt Hecht
  • New Jersey Air National Guard Public Affairs

Nearly 200 Airmen from the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 108th Wing and 177th Fighter Wing tuned in to watch state Command Chief Master Sgt. Michael Rakauckas address the force virtually and answer questions during his first enlisted all-call on March 14, 2021. 

Brig. Gen. Patrick Kennedy, commander of the New Jersey Air National Guard, opened up remarks by lauding the efforts of Airmen who responded immediately to Covid-19 activations nearly a year ago. 

“The New Jersey National Guard responded right away with putting Airmen and Soldiers out in the community to start testing and taking precautions to stave off this pandemic,” said Kennedy. “ Here we are twelve months later issuing the vaccinations to put this pandemic behind us. It’s a historic mission to be a part of.”

Kennedy noted the importance of the enlisted force.

“Our mission success and failure rides on our Airmen and NCOs and you have all performed in a most outstanding fashion,” said Kennedy. “I appreciate all of your efforts to keep our nation and state safe.”

Rakauckas, the son of a Vietnam veteran, talked about his roots growing up in New Jersey, his military family, and his twenty-three years of service to the Air Force and Air National Guard.

“I couldn’t be more proud working with a great boss like General Kennedy,” said Rakauckas. “He’s very passionate about taking care of our Airmen, and we speak almost every day about ways to improve the force.”

Since March, 2020, New Jersey Air National Guard Airmen have been activated in support of Covid-19 testing sites, long-term care facilities, elections, civil unrest, Covid-19 vaccination centers, and the Capitol Response missions, all while maintaining their mission readiness for worldwide operations.

Rakauckas noted key focus points for the New Jersey Air National Guard: Readiness, Development, and Health of the Force, and answered questions about fitness, professional military education, and conduct.

“With readiness, we need to be prepared and to remain relevant,” said Rakauckas. “Deliberate development is also important, and why we created the Leadership Center of Excellence and the CATALIST course. The Health of the Force is embracing airmanship, taking care of Airmen to the fullest, and creating opportunities.”

“The most satisfying thing about this position is seeing others get promoted as well as being awarded for missions accomplished,” said Rakauckas. “I am humbled and honored to be your state Command Chief.”