Friday, September 18, 2009
Happy Birthday, Air Force!
You're lookin' good for age 62... Many of you know I am an Air Force Veteran. I spent 13 years on active duty, most of it in law enforcement. However, before I became a Special Agent I was honored to work in two large aircraft maintenance units; one at McGuire AFB, New Jersey and the other at Luke AFB, Arizona. Both squadrons had over 800 active duty airmen assigned; about 15 officers and 775+ enlisted men and women. I was doubly-blessed in those two units: my Commanders were good, honorable, and decent men who were the best role models imaginable, and the Noncommissioned Officers (NCOs) who served under me were brave, dedicated, and patient men and women who helped gently (and sometimes not-so-gently) "grow" me from a clueless and naive young "butterbar" into a confident, capable, and compassionate junior officer. I will be forever thankful to those NCOs; one of the proudest days of my life was the first time one called me "L.T." instead of "Lieutenant." I knew then that I had earned respect, and that I was doing something right. On the flight lines in Jersey and Arizona I saw the blue-collar Air Force in action. I carried tool boxes and slung gear with the Crew Chiefs, I hung bombs off fighters with the Armament Techs, I counted missiles and bullets with the Ammo Crew (IYAAYAS!!!), I packed parachutes with the Life Supporters, and I worried over depot and flight schedules with the Maintenance Officers. I learned what it REALLY meant to be an Airman, with a capital "A." The experiences I had on the flight line early in my career gave me the appreciation for the heart of the Air Force that would serve me well in my law enforcement career. It helped me understand the culture and lifestyle of the men and women, and their families, who are the backbone of our national defense. And it gave me the courage and resolve to take the sometimes difficult, sometimes gut-wrenching steps necessary to enforce the law and the Uniform Code of Military Justice against those who dishonored the uniform and their fellow Airmen. Today, September 18, 2009, marks the Air Force's 62nd birthday. The Air Force was originally part of the U.S. Army, but was created as a separate branch of the U.S. Military by the National Security Act of 1947. The Air Force is by far the youngest military branch (and the BEST!) There are currently over 327,000 officers and enlisted men and women on active duty, another 115,000+ in the Reserves, and over 106,000 in the Air National Guard. Additionally, the Air Force employs over 171,000 civilian personnel, who are very much part of the Air Force family. The Commander, Air Mobility Command, had this to say about this auspicious occasion: On Sept. 18, 1947, our Air Force became a separate branch of the military. Since then our unequalled accomplishments have helped provide a beacon of hope for men, women and children all over the world. The Air Force's birthday is an ideal time to celebrate this heritage and the people who have made and continue to make it all possible. During the Berlin Airlift, our veteran Airmen delivered 2.2 million tons of cargo to a city desperately in need. Today, our AMC, Air Force Reserve Command, and Air National Guard Airmen continue this honorable tradition as they work together to achieve unprecedented results around the globe. Our success does come at a price as evidenced by the many sacrifices of our Airmen and their families. While our people work long hours and endure time away from home, their families remain steadfast in providing unyielding support and care for our personnel as they make history every day. Take time on Sept. 18 to remember and recognize the superior contributions our Air Force has made to this great nation. Also take time to remember the sacrifices that Airmen and their families have made to found the freedoms that we enjoy today. For that, I am honored and thankful to be among you wearing the Air Force uniform. I am honored to have served alongside these amazing men and women of the U.S. Air Force, and to have been a part of a glorious history. Happy Birthday, Air Force! To my Brothers and Sisters in Blue -- Good Luck and GodSpeed.