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‘Sweet Sundays’ brings 18th Wing commander, Airmen together
Cindy Wilsbach, wife of 18th Wing commander, Brig. Gen. Ken Wilsbach, speaks to guests at their “Sweet Sundays” social in the commander’s home, May 8. For the nearly two years the Wilsbachs have been at Kadena, they’ve hosted Sweet Sundays to connect with service members on the base in a casual environment. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Maeson L. Elleman)
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‘Sweet Sundays’ brings 18th Wing commander, Airmen together

Posted 5/10/2011   Updated 5/10/2011 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Maeson L. Elleman
18th Wing Public Affairs

5/10/2011 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- For nearly two years, Brig. Gen. Ken Wilsbach, 18th Wing commander, and his wife Cindy have been inviting Kadena's many squadrons into their home Sunday evenings to socialize and share an assortment of Mrs. Wilsbach's homemade desserts. Now, as his tour on Kadena comes to a close, the commander is meeting up with the last remaining squadrons this week.

The idea started out with one event per month, but increased steadily to nearly every week in April and May of this year. The Wilsbachs have used these "Sweet Sundays" to connect with service members and their spouses on the base in a casual environment and show that despite the difference in rank, they are here for the same purpose.

"Having guests in our home is a way that we honor people and tell them that we appreciate them," said General Wilsbach.

At the beginning of each night, the commander and his wife share a brief history of the home with their guests. During their introductions, they explain that when the general was stationed at Kadena in the mid-1990s as a major, they had no idea where the wing commander lived and felt it was unfortunate because airmen should have a opportunity to socialize with their commander.

After returning to Kadena to be the wing commander, Mrs. Wilsbach proposed the idea of having Airmen from the wing's squadrons over for dessert throughout their tour. That's when they decided to set up the Sweet Sundays social to give about 30 Airmen and their spouses from each squadron the opportunity to spend a little time getting to know their leader.

"Stearley House, the wing commander's quarters, is a beautiful home with a history that dates back to the early 50s," said Mrs. Wilsbach. "Many high-ranking military officials, past and present, statesmen, and an entertainer or two have dined here. But it seems only fitting that this home should also be opened to our Kadena Airmen and their families, civilian personnel and local nationals who do so much every day to make Kadena Air Base thrive."

"We try to just get to know people and tell them a little about us, and hopefully learn a little bit about them," General Wilsbach said.

Airman 1st Class Ryan Bennett, 67th Fighter Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician and guest at the May 8 event, said it meant a lot to him that the commander has opened up his home to so many of Kadena's Airmen.

"I think it shows that he's really personal, and I think he really cares about all the troops here," said Airman Bennett. "It's great because you kind of get the chance to get into a one-on-one conversation with him and learn a lot of things about him that you would've never known. I never expected that higher-ranking individuals would take the time to do events like this, so it means a lot."

General Wilsbach said he feels it's important for any leader to host similar events to better connect with their troops.

"I think it is important for commanders and supervisors to have opportunities to get to know their people on more than just an office or workspace basis," the commander continued. "I've always tried to host events like these because you get to know the people that you work with and their families by communicating that you not only appreciate them for the work they do, but for who they are and for their service to their country."

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