COMPACAF thanks Airmen, veterans for service

  • Published
  • By Gen. Lori J. Robinson
  • Headquarters Pacific Air Forces commander
To the men and women of Pacific Air Forces and to veterans across the Armed Forces, thank you for your service. Nov. 11 marks a significant date in our nation's history, a day in 1918 when Germany and the Allied nations of World War I signed an armistice bringing to an end "the war to end all wars." To mark the cessation of that destructive war, Congress declared this date as Armistice Day. Following World War II and the Korean Conflict, we expanded this day further to honor American veterans of all wars.

We do not celebrate Veterans Day solely on a Monday, as we do other national holidays, because the historical significance of this date brings to focus the sacrifice of military service. Veterans of every generation have bravely answered the nation's call and for that, we are deeply grateful. On this day, let us honor the thousands of American veterans for their love of country and their willingness to be a part of something larger than themselves. 

In the Pacific, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the United States' expanded involvement in the Vietnam War. In November 1964, Viet Cong mortars shelled Bien Hoa Air Base in South Vietnam, killing four Americans and damaging or destroying 20 U.S. bombers. In the decade following this event, the United States Air Force provided tremendous and diverse contributions in Vietnam.  Close air support operations proved crucial to the defense of the Marine base at Khe Sanh, which lay under siege for two and half months during the Tet Offensive. Between 1965 and 1973, the Military Airlift Command evacuated over 400,000 medical patients. The Air Force's massive bombing campaign in Operation Linebacker II played a decisive role in ending the long conflict. And finally, during Operation Homecoming in 1973, the Air Force transported 591 former POWs to Clark Air Base in the Philippines. 

A couple of weeks ago, I had the honor and privilege of attending an F-100F dedication at the Pacific Aviation Museum. The ceremony honored a group of pilots, known by their Misty call sign, who were employed as fast forward air controllers in North Vietnam, from 1967 to 1970. Their story is an extraordinary one and it speaks to the legacy of selflessness and excellence that our service has enjoyed since its inception. 

Each generation has its own set of challenges, a new war to fight and a new front to fight it in - and our generation is no different. This Veterans Day, I ask that we reflect upon the importance of what we do and why you each raised your right hand to take an oath of allegiance to America. Whether you are military or civilian, active duty, Reserve, or Guard; Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Airman, or Coast Guardsman -- each of us plays an important role in protecting our way of life. For 238 years, our country has depended on a legacy of U.S. service members to keep our freedom free. You are part of that legacy. America depends on each and every PACAF Airman to help win the fight and shape America's destiny. You represent the values that make our Air Force and our nation proud and I am honored to serve with each of you. Thank you for all you do.