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Remembering 9/11

  • Published
  • By Col. Mike Hornitschek
  • Air Mobility Wing commander
It has been a demanding few weeks for us here as we completed our Combined Unit Inspection, supported three different wings during a real-world hurricane evacuation, responded to a real-world incident involving suspicious and possibly hazardous materials at our post office, and then ensured our teams had the proper and safe send off for the Labor Day Weekend. Thankfully, I can report that we have completed all these events in a "Showcase" manner!

I would be remiss if I did not publicly thank all the emergency responders for their thorough and exhaustive efforts from last week's post office incident and for everyone's patience as we dealt with the situation. As reported last week, the final outcome was a "negative finding," for which we are again, grateful that all those involved are O.K.

The quick responses and unity of effort not only during the incident, but also as we headed out for a much-deserved long weekend, draws my attention now to activities happening tomorrow and throughout the weekend to remember 9/11. Two important events happening on base will be the retreat tomorrow at 4 p.m., which will be led by Lt. Gen. Rusty Findley, Air Mobility Command's vice commander. All are welcome to attend as members of AMC gather in formation at the parade field to pay their respects. Then on Sunday starting at 3:30 p.m. there will be a Run/Walk to remember, immediately followed by a ceremony in which a piece of the World Trade Center will be delivered and affixed to its permanent memorial located in front of the 375th AMW headquarters building.

These events promise to be somber and dignified reminders of that day that brought us together as a nation. Together we remember the event and the resilience it prompted, unifying America under our principle of freedom while honoring those who sacrificed of themselves for our safety.

Images from that day ensure we remember the smoke and rubble and victims' tears. But we also remember the heroes of that day, uniformed and civilian: the firefighters and police officers who rushed into burning skyscrapers to save the people trapped inside, Pentagon employees who risked all to rescue injured co-workers to the heroic passengers on Flight 93 who fought to retake their plane that later crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We do not forget the innocent people who lost their lives that day--each person was a friend, a family member, a co-worker. Every person is missed.

The Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack not only affected our nation, but changed the world and our place in it. Citizens of 90 countries were among the nearly 3,000 victims. The attacks united us with our fellow democratic nations against an ideology of radical extremism. As we reflect on the horrific day, we honor the unwavering courage of the men and women in our Armed Forces and our Allies in their ongoing efforts of securing our nation, and in their continuing fight against terrorism.

Today, there are more than 40,000 Airmen currently deployed around the world supporting joint and coalition forces with air, space and cyberspace capabilities. More than 57,000 Airmen are permanently stationed overseas supporting combatant commanders, and approximately 200,000 support daily combatant commander operations from stateside locations.

After ten years of sustained combat operations, we as an Air Force and a nation remain resilient. Our service men and women and their families bear the enormous burden of war's difficult toll. Surge operations have taken on a more familiar tone as day-to-day missions--deployments have become routine and significant; but anytime the Nation asks, Scott AFB and the Air Force, are ready to respond.

Caring for our Airmen and their families remains a priority for this wing and our Air Force. This commitment will ensure we retain the best-qualified Airmen and sustain the quality of services for them and their families. At this convergence of prolonged conflict, ongoing fiscal stress, and federal resource constraints, resiliency becomes an increasingly significant priority for commanders, supervisors, and wingmen at all levels. As our service members answer the call to serve, our Joint force effectiveness depends on the ability of our Airmen and their families to thrive in the face of deployment-related challenges.

We do not forget those sacrifices of our men and women serving the military and our country, be they civilian or uniformed personnel. Knowing that their loved ones, friends, family and the American public support them provides the strength for them to remain steadfast.

As President Thomas Jefferson said, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." Such necessary vigilance requires our preparation, endurance and resilience. We must continue to train and prepare our Airmen for the future, to arm them with knowledge and skills to their job but also to deal with the stresses that come with the demands of serving our great country. With these critical tools we will honor the 9/11 victims by preserving our Nation's freedom through excellence in Air, Space and Cyberspace power.