Thank you for your service

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. John Meiter
  • 8th Operations Support Squadron
I recently returned from a deployment to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. While there, I was able to see the efforts of our sister services in that area of operations.

I was incredibly impressed by the work being done by the Army, Marines and coalition ground forces. They are fully committed to the betterment of the Afghan people and the development of a stable country.

This committed team is going to extraordinary lengths to ensure security in the region. While security is a pivotal part of the campaign, they are almost more dedicated to the building of a solid and self-sufficient people. You will see soldiers and marines actively teaching Afghanis basic life skills such as cooking, farming, sewing, animal husbandry and forestry. They are in most towns and communities supporting their daily routines. And, they are sponsoring numerous projects to improve the country by building roads, bridges and dams. This departure from traditional military doctrine and willingness to meet the demands of the mission is truly awe-inspiring.

While there, I was introduced to the JET or Joint Expeditionary Tasking program. This is a program whereby Airmen are deployed into ground units in order to fill the requirements of the ground force commander. 

JET Airmen are generally deployed singly from their home station, given six to eight weeks of ground combat skills training and then integrated into a ground unit. JET Airmen fill a host of requirements from convoy support to communications to intelligence and they are often deployed at the most forward and remote of the ground operating bases. Despite the austere, unfamiliar and rigorous taskings, these Airmen were having a huge impact in their units and truly helping the mission succeed. Army and Marine commanders were universally complimentary of the "Airmen that were parachuted" into their units. They were filling critical ground unit shortfalls and overcoming service differences to accomplish the mission.

These Airmen have answered their nation's call despite the fact it was not necessarily the career field or duty into which they enlisted. The stories that truly inspired me were those of the young Airmen who had never been away from their hometown prior to enlisting. Despite the fact these young Airmen had never been exposed to a foreign culture, they were now embracing the chance to help improve the lives of a people in need. They were learning the language and customs. They were making friends and sharing skills. They were truly making a difference.

Though, these JET Airmen are not unique or special trained in the Air Force. They are Airmen just like you and me who signed up to defend our nation and were willing to answer our nation's call when they were asked.

As we remember our fallen comrades, who made the ultimate sacrifice, I always think of those Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines who are selflessly putting themselves in harm's way. They are fighting a malicious and nasty enemy coming at them from all directions without warning. They are being asked to hold the safety of civilians higher than returning fire. And, they are being asked to do this in a country far from home, without any of the conveniences with which they grew up.

Still, Airmen are willingly answering this call. They are willingly putting their lives on the line every day. I want to thank them for their sacrifices and service. I want to thank you for the sacrifices you have made. You should be proud of the sacrifices you have made for this country.

Thank you for your service.