COMPACAF thanks vets for making 'far-reaching difference' every day

  • Published
  • By General Gary North
  • Pacific Air Forces
On Veterans Day we remember the contributions made to our nation by service members -- past and present. While Memorial Day honors those who gave their lives in military service, Veterans Day commemorates and recognizes the personal sacrifices made by anyone who wears, or has worn, the uniform. In the decades since the Vietnam War, one phrase about such service resonates: "Some gave all; all gave some." This concisely summarizes what it means to serve.

President Barack Obama recently highlighted an example of "giving all" by presenting the Medal of Honor to the family of an Air Force chief master sergeant killed in action 42 years ago.

Chief Master Sergeant Richard Etchberger was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery displayed on March 11, 1968, when North Vietnamese forces attacked a radar site in Laos that supported American bomber aircraft. During the attack, 12 of the 19 radar site members were killed. Chief Etchberger courageously engaged the enemy while tending to the wounded. After loading three wounded comrades onto a rescue helicopter, the Chief was mortally wounded by ground fire while being the last to board. Although he was recommended for the Medal of Honor at the time of his death, political sensitivities and secrecy regarding the nature of the mission in Laos prevented its initial approval.

Not every Airman ends up facing such a situation. But by taking the oath of office, all Airmen agree to make sacrifices, large and small, to defend our nation. "All give some." That is why we recognize veterans each year. Our uniformed services, including the Guard and Reserve, make up less than one percent of our nation's population -- yet they make a far-reaching difference every day, in places scattered across the globe.

I am thankful for the more than 43,000 Airmen of Pacific Air Forces who serve every day, 24/7. Thank you for volunteering to serve in a time of prolonged war unlike any our nation has faced. Thank you for serving throughout the Pacific, far from your family and friends. Most of all, thank you for your perseverance in one of the most demanding professions.

Have a safe and blessed Veterans Day, and keep doing the great things you do every day so that we may continue to Aim High and Fly, Fight and Win ... in air, space and cyberspace, here in the Pacific and around the world.