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Steel foundation: Locally-born general comes home to tell AF story

Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, observes downtown Pittsburgh, June 14, 2019.

Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, observes downtown Pittsburgh, June 14, 2019. Thompson, who was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area, visited the city as part of the America’s Air Force community outreach program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Marjorie A. Schurr)

Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, laughs at a joke told by a University of Pittsburgh professor during a Q&A session in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania June 14, 2019.

Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, laughs at a joke told by a University of Pittsburgh professor during a Q&A session in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania June 14, 2019. Thompson spent about an hour answering questions from professors, researchers, military members, and other members of the Pittsburgh community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Marjorie A. Schurr)

911th Operations Group Commander Col. Gregory Buchanan and Air Force Space Command Vice Commander Lt. Gen. David Thompson learn about the benefits of metal additives manufacturing at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 14, 2019.

911th Operations Group Commander Col. Gregory Buchanan and Air Force Space Command Vice Commander Lt. Gen. David Thompson learn about the benefits of metal additives manufacturing at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 14, 2019. Thompson and others visited several organizations in the Pittsburgh area as part of the America’s Air Force community outreach program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Fritz)

911th Operations Group Commander Col. Gregory Buchanan, Public Affairs Officer Capt. Justin Lewis, Air Force Space Command Vice Commander Lt. Gen. David Thompson, and Executive Assistant Capt. Marcianna Pease pose for a photo with patients and their families at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, June 14, 2019.

911th Operations Group Commander Col. Gregory Buchanan, Public Affairs Officer Capt. Justin Lewis, Air Force Space Command Vice Commander Lt. Gen. David Thompson, and Executive Assistant Capt. Marcianna Pease pose for a photo with patients and their families at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, June 14, 2019. Thompson and others visited Pittsburgh and the surrounding area as part of the America’s Air Force community outreach program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Fritz)

Lt. Col. Diana Bishop, commander of Air Force ROTC Detachment 730, presents a gift to Air Force Space Command Vice Commander Lt. Gen. David Thompson in Pittsburgh, June 14, 2019.

Lt. Col. Diana Bishop, commander of Air Force ROTC Detachment 730, presents a gift to Air Force Space Command Vice Commander Lt. Gen. David Thompson in Pittsburgh, June 14, 2019. Earlier in the day, Thompson had visited cadets at the University of Pittsburgh as part of the America’s Air Force community outreach program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Fritz)

Tech. Sgt. Marjorie A. Schurr, NCO in charge of community engagement with the 911th Airlift Wing, makes glitter glue fireworks with patients and their families at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, June 14, 2019.

Tech. Sgt. Marjorie A. Schurr, NCO in charge of community engagement with the 911th Airlift Wing, makes glitter glue fireworks with patients and their families at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, June 14, 2019. Schurr accompanied Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, on a tour of Pittsburgh and surrounding areas as part of the America’s Air Force community outreach program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Fritz)

Lt. Gen. David Thompson interacts with a patient at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh; June 14, 2019.

Lt. Gen. David Thompson interacts with a patient at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh; June 14, 2019. Thompson and other Air Force members visited children and their families at the hospital as part of the America’s Air Force community outreach program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Fritz)

Professors with the University of Pittsburgh brief Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, on technological and medical research and development in Pittsburgh, June 14, 2019.

Professors with the University of Pittsburgh brief Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, on technological and medical research and development in Pittsburgh, June 14, 2019. Thompson visited Pittsburgh as part of the America’s Air Force community outreach program because the city is a “special nexus” of research and partnerships with the Department of Defense. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Fritz)

Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, looks at trophies given to Air Force ROTC Detachment 730 in Pittsburgh, June 14, 2019.

Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, looks at trophies given to Air Force ROTC Detachment 730 in Pittsburgh, June 14, 2019. Thompson visited the detachment at the University of Pittsburgh to mentor future Air Force officers and leaders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Fritz)

Jim Roddey of Beaver County Radio interviews Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, on his radio show in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, June 13, 2019.
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Jim Roddey of Beaver County Radio interviews Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, on his radio show in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, June 13, 2019. Thompson, who was born and raised in Ambridge, visited the Pittsburgh area as part of the America’s Air Force community outreach program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Fritz)

Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, speaks to Civil Air Patrol Cadets and Airmen from the 911th Airlift Wing and 171st Air Refueling Wing at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, June 13, 2019.
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Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, speaks to Civil Air Patrol Cadets and Airmen from the 911th Airlift Wing and 171st Air Refueling Wing at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, June 13, 2019. Thompson, who was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area, made a point during his visit to mentor potential future military leaders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Fritz)

Capt. Brenden Stokes, Tech. Sgt. Josh Means, and Senior Airmen Stephen Barley and Jeffrey Smidga of the 911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron practice medical procedures on a high-tech mannequin at Robert Morris University in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, June 13, 2019.
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Capt. Brenden Stokes, Tech. Sgt. Josh Means, and Senior Airmen Stephen Barley and Jeffrey Smidga of the 911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron practice medical procedures on a high-tech mannequin at Robert Morris University in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, June 13, 2019. Airmen and university faculty put on a simulation to demonstrate their capabilities to Air Force Space Command Vice Commander Lt. Gen. David Thompson as part of the America’s Air Force community outreach program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Marjorie A. Schurr)

Lt. Gen. David Thompson interacts with Robert Morris University faculty and local military members in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, June 13, 2019.
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Lt. Gen. David Thompson interacts with Robert Morris University faculty and local military members in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, June 13, 2019. Thompson toured RMU as part of the America’s Air Force community outreach program to learn more about the university’s partnerships with local military organizations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Marjorie A. Schurr)

A welcome sign is posted in honor of Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Civic Leader Kristi Hilbert at a radio station in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, June 13, 2019.
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A welcome sign is posted in honor of Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Civic Leader Kristi Hilbert at a radio station in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, June 13, 2019. Thompson and others visited the Pittsburgh area as part of the America’s Air Force community outreach program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Marjorie A. Schurr)

A robotics professor with Carnegie Mellon University briefs Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, and other Air Force members on developments in robotics in Pittsburgh, June 14, 2019.
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A robotics professor with Carnegie Mellon University briefs Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, and other Air Force members on developments in robotics in Pittsburgh, June 14, 2019. Thompson and others visited Pittsburgh as part of the America’s Air Force community outreach program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Marjorie A. Schurr)

Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, prepares for a toy airplane race with Public Affairs Officer Capt. Justin Lewis, 911th Operations Group Commander Col. Gregory Buchanan, patients and their families at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, June 14, 2019.
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Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, prepares for a toy airplane race with Public Affairs Officer Capt. Justin Lewis, 911th Operations Group Commander Col. Gregory Buchanan, patients and their families at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, June 14, 2019. Thompson and others visited Pittsburgh as part of the America’s Air Force community outreach program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Marjorie A. Schurr)

Capt. Justin Lewis, public affairs officer assigned to Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs, interacts with a patient at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, June 14, 2019.
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Capt. Justin Lewis, public affairs officer assigned to Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs, interacts with a patient at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, June 14, 2019. Lewis accompanied Air Force Space Command Vice Commander Lt. Gen. David Thompson on a visit to Pittsburgh as part of the America’s Air Force community outreach program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Marjorie A. Schurr)

Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, uses virtual reality goggles with the assistance of cadets from Air Force ROTC Detachment 730 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania June 14, 2019.
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Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, uses virtual reality goggles with the assistance of cadets from Air Force ROTC Detachment 730 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania June 14, 2019. With this device, Thompson was able to take an aerial tour of the city and show cadets his hometown Ambridge, Pennsylvania. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Marjorie A. Schurr)

PITTSBURGH --

Lt. Gen. David Thompson, vice commander of Air Force Space Command and Pittsburgh local, visited several key organizations in the area June 13 and 14, 2019.

 

The visit was arranged as part of the America’s Air Force city outreach program and was designed to foster stronger ties between the Air Force and the American public. Pittsburgh joins several cities like Charlotte, North Carolina, and Indianapolis as strategic outreach points because of their contributions to the Department of Defense.

 

Thompson, who was born and raised in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, visited Pittsburgh because of the unique support it provides to national policy as well as to Air Force research and operations.

 

“The Air Force from its birth has been an incredibly technical force, and in order to stay relevant, we have to stay on the leading edge of where technology is taking us and where policy is taking us,” he said during a breakfast Q&A session at the University of Pittsburgh Oakland campus. “It’s our connection to the science, the technology and the research base that accomplishes that, and Pittsburgh is a special nexus of these resources.”

 

During his two-day visit to the city, Thompson travelled to organizations like the 911th Airlift Wing, Robert Morris University, the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. He answered questions, got to know various community members and thanked them for their support.

 

“The United States Air Force is truly America’s Air Force,” he said. “There are other great air forces out there, but none of them are as connected to their communities as ours. Thank you on behalf of the 600,000 Airmen, civilians, and reservists. Thanks for your support, thanks for your commitment, and most of all thank you for the work you do.”

 

Though Pittsburgh has no active duty military installations, The Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard are each represented through their guard and reserve components. This means that people in the area provide a specific kind of service to the country that other communities in the country might not, said Thompson. Family members, employers, and neighbors each play an integral part in the lives and service of local military members.

 

“It used to be in the Air Force I joined and the Air Force that preceded me that the guard and reserve were a strategic resource, only to be called up in a time of need,” he said. “Now the guard and reserve are a critical part of strategic operations as we know them to be. If you removed the guard and reserve from our daily operations, we would not be able to do effectively what the nation expects us to do.”

 

Col. Gregory Buchanan, commander of the 911th Operations Group, accompanied Thompson for much of his visit to the area and said that the relationships between local military and the surrounding community are key to mission accomplishment.

 

“The 911th Airlift Wing, as well as the U.S. Air Force as a whole, depends on community relationships to thrive, and Lt. Gen. Thompson’s visit helped to strengthen those relationships,” said Buchanan. “Several new partnerships were built between the wing and local academic institutions. Relationships like these are key to our mission success.”

 

Thompson spent time learning about the partnerships the local military organizations have built with members of the community. For example, he visited Robert Morris University’s school of nursing to learn more about the crisis response training they provide medical personnel, giving military members critical experience and knowledge that they would be otherwise unable to obtain.

 

He also made a point to speak with Civil Air Patrol Squadron 603 and Air Force ROTC Detachment 730 cadets to mentor and potential future military leaders. Both organizations gave the general gifts in appreciation of his time, including coins, certificates, and a personalized souvenir based on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Terrible Towel.

 

Everywhere he went, Thompson emphasized his personal ties to the Pittsburgh area and how his experiences there built the launch pad for his career. He said that he is proud to have been able to apply what he learned from Ambridge Area High School and from friends and family throughout his life.

 

Thompson understands the importance of support from communities because of his own close ties with his hometown, he said. He went out of his way to thank everyone he met for their support, doing what he could to give back to the communities that have given him and local military members so much.

 

“The most important reason that we are the world’s greatest air force is the support that we receive from the American people,” said Thompson during a visit to Robert Morris University. “The kind of support we get from you all is just unmatched anywhere else in the world. And I just wanted to thank you for your support; whatever small or large role you play, we wouldn’t be here without you.”