Commentary: Lessons of December 7th remain relevant

  • Published
  • By Col. Johnny Roscoe
  • 15th Wing Commander
Today marks the 71st anniversary of the Imperial Japanese Navy's attack on Hickam Field and Pearl Harbor. Though the fires of the ensuing World War have long grown cold, the lessons learned on that harrowing day reach through history and cascade onto the shores of present-day Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

One must only look at the bullet-pocked buildings here at Hickam and the sunken ships in Pearl Harbor to realize that a moment's lapse in readiness can result in a lifetime of pain and regret.

Both Dec. 7, 1941, and Sept. 11, 2001, have taught somber lessons that when war comes to American soil, it arrives in a hurry.

Similar to today, the military inhabitants of 1940's Hawaii reveled in the ohana spirit and enjoyed the protective cushion provided by thousands of miles of the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

However, this distance is a double-edged sword; it provides defense through depth, but invites complacency. We man an isolated extension of our great country far from resupply. The enemy may not be staring us directly in the face like in Afghanistan, but make no mistake, they are out there. Our strategic positioning can act either to guard the American mainland or to serve those who would destroy us; we train every day to ensure the former.

This day is a stark reminder that we do not have the option to allow our vigilance to fail for even a moment. Over a million residents of the State of Hawaii rely on your preparedness to secure their well being. Their safety and ours are derived from your innate preparedness developed through long hours of exercises and training.

Today also is distinguished by the F-22 pilots of the 19th and 199th Fighter Squadrons officially taking over the Hawaii air defense alert mission from the Montana Air National Guard. This occasion continues a proud tradition of alert aircraft defending the airspace around Hawaii 24/7 since 1956. In fact, the pilots of the 19th are currently the only active duty Air Force squadron partnered with the Air National Guard to take part in the air defense mission.

Whether it's protecting the skies over Oahu, providing additional reaction time against an invasion of the American mainland or laying the groundwork for follow-on forces to protect our allies throughout the Pacific theater we must continually strive to be ... Powerful Airmen ... Always Ready!