Commentary | Dec. 2, 2009

From Hunter 1: Thank you and continue to press forward

By 432 WG Commander 432d Wing, 432d Air Expeditionary Wing Commander

The end of another year is upon us. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we're staring down Christmas and a New Year of saving lives overseas. In this time of celebration, I want to take a few minutes to thank you for what you have accomplished in 2009.

You have flown or supported the flying of over 9,000 combat sorties and 145,000 combat flight hours. No other wing in the Air Force is as active, as successful, and as persistent in their mission accomplishment as the Hunters. You do amazing things every day. The results of these efforts are difficult to quantify -- how do you count the lives we're saving? The answer is: you can't. We can only continue on, providing the unblinking eye for those troops on the ground, knowing that our efforts are not wasted. I know there are countless families out there this holiday season that are thankful to the Hunters because their loved ones made it home safe to sit at the table for Thanksgiving dinner.

As we continue through the holiday season, I ask you all to keep the impact you're making as part of the RPA community in your crosscheck. I know many of you missed Thanksgiving with your families. I also know many more of you will miss Christmas. But I ask you to step back and examine the environment in which we work. There are thousands of troops on the ground in harm's way. They missed Thanksgiving with their families also. Some of them won't see another Thanksgiving again. But with the family time you sacrifice this holiday season, you are directly responsible for more of them making it home. You are an invaluable part of those troops' safety and you make it possible for sons and daughters to come home to mothers and fathers...and fathers and mothers to come home to their sons and daughters. If only one of their lives is saved, I argue that our sacrifice here is worth it.

I would also like to thank you and your families. The Hunters couldn't accomplish our mission without the support of our loved ones. They are as much a part of the Air Force as you are, and their support is the foundation for our success.

Finally, we all should be thankful for each other. I ask you to be watchful of your fellow Airmen. The holidays are a joyous time for most, but are also very lonely for some. If you know of a fellow Hunter without holiday plans, invite them over. If you see one of your fellow Airmen on the verge of doing something foolish, stop them. Celebrate responsibly this holiday season; do not drink and drive, and make sure you have a plan to rejoin your fellow Hunters on 1 January. I look forward to seeing you then. Have a safe and happy holiday season.

- Hunter 1