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Thanksgiving: A time to give thanks

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gen. Floyd Carpenter
  • Eighth Air Force commander
Mighty Eighth,

As the Thanksgiving holiday season and start of 2011 approaches, it's a good opportunity for us all to stop and reflect on the family, friends and co-workers in our Air Force family and local community -- and give thanks for the freedoms that we share. In addition to giving thanks for the special people in our lives, we can also be thankful for a remarkably successful year that has helped transform our organization and make us stronger and more capable than ever before.

It's been a tremendously busy year and we should be very proud of all we have accomplished together in the past several months. One of the first milestones this year was the transfer of the Mighty Eighth and our bombers from Air Combat Command to Air Force Global Strike Command, which was crucial to the reinvigoration of our nuclear mission. Shortly thereafter, we had the ribbon cutting ceremony for our new temporary headquarters here at the Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City, La., followed by the move of all headquarters personnel and equipment to the new facility.

These events alone would be more than enough for many organizations to tackle successfully. However, in addition to the significant organizational changes underway, the Mighty Eighth put operations into overdrive to take on the multitude of inspections, exercises and deployments taking place concurrently throughout our wings. The continual stream of both conventional and nuclear operational readiness inspections, and nuclear surety inspections (several of them no-notice), kept operations running at a rapid pace. Then, without missing a beat, we added exercises like Busy Mudbug, Red Flag, Austere Challenge and most recently Global Thunder to our plate.

As if this wasn't enough, we added another critical layer of deterrence operations into the mix - our deployments to Guam in support of the Continuous Bomber Presence mission in the Asia-Pacific region. Then last, but not least, we participated in the first-ever Global Strike Challenge. The new competition, which included teams of security forces, maintainers, and bomber and missile crews from across Air Force Global Strike Command, was a resounding success that brought the "best of the best" together for some good old-fashioned competition and esprit de corps. Looking back now, it becomes clear that this was no ordinary year for Eighth Air Force and I want to give my heartfelt thanks to everyone in the Mighty Eighth for all of the hard work and dedication that made these achievements possible.

Melissa and I have participated in many special events this year, but I would like to highlight and share two of them with you. First, we competed with an Eighth Air Force team in the Second Annual Dragon Boat Race on the Red River in downtown Shreveport, La. Like last year, we had a strong team -- but we didn't get off to the great start we were accustomed to. Those on the rowing team who raced before were a little surprised and maybe a bit discouraged, but the "Mighty Eighth" came back in subsequent races and ultimately finished fourth out of 28 teams -- not bad for a co-ed team with little experience.

Second, Melissa and I joined an Eighth Air Force team that was determined to run in the Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson AFB. Led by a contingent of young officer and enlisted Airmen, this group overcame lots of obstacles and injuries and even paid their own way to the race to run the grueling 26.2 mile course and represent both Eighth Air Force and Air Force Global Strike Command. Despite the pain and agony we endured during our training and the race itself, the marathon medallion afterward made it all worthwhile. The medallion, which featured a B-52 on it this year, gave everyone on our team a great sense of achievement and pride. These events are just two examples of the outstanding leadership and teamwork that goes on everyday at Eighth Air Force.

This Thanksgiving, it's my sincere hope that you have a great sense of achievement and pride for what you've accomplished for the Mighty Eighth, Air Force Global Strike Command and the U.S. Air Force. Your dedication to excellence and selfless service, each and every day, provides our nation with safe, secure and credible nuclear and conventional deterrence forces. I give thanks for your service and am thankful to be your commander. Being a part of this amazing team is why I often tell people that I have the best job in the entire Air Force and that there is no place I'd rather be than with the legendary Mighty Eighth!