By Col. Robert T. Brooks, Jr., 104th Fighter Wing
/ Published May 14, 2011
Barnes Air National Guard Base, 104 Fighter Wing - Westfield, Mass -- Barnestormers, we are down to the wire preparing for our upcoming inspections, just 4 drill days until the UCI and LCAP teams are here, inspecting the programs you have been working so hard to ensure are in compliance. This drill is also days away from one of the most important federal holidays, Memorial Day.
Memorial Day commemorates U.S. military members who died while in service to our country. Our men and women have been engaged around the world, supporting Operations NOBLE EAGLE, IRAQI and ENDURING FREEDOM, as well as other contingency operations overseas since September 11, 2001. Though the events of May 1 are significant to our nation's history, and strike an even more personal cord amongst our brothers and sisters in arms, we must always remain vigilant and know that our duty to support and defend the constitution never ends. Today, not unlike any other day in the past 10 years, members of our Guard Family are engaged overseas, supporting freedom. Likewise, since February 15, 2010, our unit has been on alert, prepared to respond to any airborne threat in the Northeast, our mission; our focus is and will remain, critical to our nation's defense. As stated by President Obama during his Sunday night address, "we need to remain vigilant."
Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, "Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed - else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die." Our ancestors marked the road of freedom with their blood, and we must always remember and appreciate the sacrifices they have made. I urge you to find motivation in the valor in which they lived, fought and sometimes died. Take time to thank a veteran for their sacrifices, then contemplate how your service today, honors all that they have done for us.
This UTA we have 30 visitors from throughout the combat Air Force, providing us one last look at our programs ensuring we are prepared to perform during our upcoming inspections. I ask that you listen to their feedback, so that we may learn from their expertise. Be open to suggestions, while demonstrating your expertise. We are not trying to on pass an inspection, we are focused on bettering ourselves as a unit and making sure we are doing the right things right. Compliance is not a goal, it should be the standard, and excellence should be the goal.
After the inspection the wing will take some time to honor our returning members and celebrate our families with a Family Day in August. More information will be sent out soon, but mark your calendars now that during the August UTA, we will open our doors to our families giving them a chance to see what you do here at Barnes. Then we will transition to preparing for overseas operations, deploying our jets to Alaska for F-22 integrated training, and finally Nellis AFB for Red Flag.
Thank you for all the hard work you have put into the upcoming inspections, take the opportunity to learn and improve this drill, and don't underestimate the value of your efforts, I don't.