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The most important thing we do

  • Published
  • By Col. David Almand
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing commander
There's not a single day that goes by where Command Chief Anderson, Col. [John] Price, and I don't have Airmen on our minds. We think about the ones who have deployed and who are now serving on the frontlines, oftentimes in harsh conditions and in harm's way. We've said goodbye and have wished them well as they left, always having a prayer in our hearts for their safe return.

It's not an easy thing to say goodbye, not knowing what lies ahead. It's scary for family members and can be overwhelming for our younger service members, especially if this is their first deployment. Thankfully we have family and friends who understand--they may not like it--but they understand why we leave and why we dedicate ourselves to this service.

These families are our secret weapon and what they do to support our Airmen helps keep America's lamp burning bright. I remember even as I left on my deployments, the effect that it had on my wife and children. I know I had Cathy's complete support, and even though she was military for 10 years of our life together, it's still a hard thing to be separated and take care of all the family concerns at home by yourself.

Today, Cathy still plays an important role in providing service to families and keeping everyone thinking positively. Having a strong support system like that is a force multiplier because we've all seen people in the war zone who cannot function because they're distraught over what's happening at home. We must focus on our missions and not be distracted. Strong families help ensure that mission execution more than they realize.

Having these strong family relationships is so important because every day we are reminded not to take it for granted. Just this year there have been 26 fallen service members who have come through Scott Air Force Base bound for their final resting place--and six of those were just this past week. These fallen heroes are our blood and treasure, and it's a sobering moment when you stand in front of the aircraft carrying that carries their remains, or take a moment to talk to the escorts--many times a close friend or even brother to the fallen.

Those are times when we all reflect on the sacrifice given. I know I am reminded of the important things in life ... and the important people in my life as I watch brothers, fathers, battle buddies and wives escort their loved ones home. It is crystal clear that we must not take our families for granted. We must nurture those relationships with our children and make the most of every day.

I've said it before, and it bears repeating, that we all must find ways to balance our lives with the work we do and the lives we choose to live. Because when it's said and done, what will be our legacy? What will be remembered about us? Will we have left this world a better place? Those 26 men and women have left the world a better place, even though there's emptiness now for their families. But, perhaps knowing that they died honorably and in the service of their country will provide some measure of comfort for them.

These are the things I think about when I ask us to make sure our Airmen are trained and ready, and understand the mission. It's what's on my mind as I ask you to take time to be with your families as you work hard for your country. Being in today's Air Force is no easy task and there are many inconveniences and sacrifices required. I want you to know that I appreciate your efforts and especially the support of your families. Together we'll work on keeping the right balance and ensuring the mission gets done. Together we'll also make sure those who do deploy are the best trained and equipped and prepared Airmen possible ... because it's the core of our mission--Enabling Combat Power!