By Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, chief of staff, Air Force - 05/21/13 10:59 PM EDT
America’s Air Force is all about people. It’s not airplanes, satellites or computers that make the mission happen, it’s our incredible airmen — using tools like these — who provide airpower for America.
America’s airmen come from all walks of life. They have different backgrounds and different beliefs, but they all serve with a common purpose. All 690,000 of them — active, Guard, Reserve, civilian — stepped forward, raised their hand and volunteered to be our Nation’s sword and shield. They are on the front lines, flying in support of troops in contact with the enemy, disabling insurgent bombs, delivering humanitarian relief, giving life-saving medical care and standing watch for those who choose to do us harm. They’re collecting battlefield intelligence, manning missile silos and defending computer networks. They stand shoulder to shoulder with their Joint teammates, who have also sworn to protect this great nation, her national interests and the citizens we serve.
America’s Air Force is faithful to a proud heritage, a tradition of honor and a legacy of valor. We embrace and nurture the innovative spirit of early airpower pioneers who were the first to fight from the sky. We give tribute to the courage of airmen like Jimmy Doolittle’s Tokyo Raiders — on the occasion of their 71st and final reunion — who conquered fear, physics, and fate to change the outcome of World War II and the character of airpower forever. Today, we stand on their shoulders, reaching for even greater heights.
America’s operations abroad require a sound foundation at home. Knowing our loved ones are well cared for and supported helps us focus on the delivery of unmatched combat power. No one sacrifices more for this country than they do. Our spouses shoulder the load of running a household, pursuing a career, dealing with the challenges of parenting and propping us up when things are tough on the job. We owe them everything!
Many airmen and their Joint brothers and sisters have given their last full measure to protect what America holds most dear: our freedom and our way of life. As a nation, we must always remember their sacrifice and never forget the real cost of freedom. As we approach Memorial Day, please pause and reflect on those men and women who have died in service to our country. Say a prayer for them and their families. We owe them that — and so much more.