Heroes of the Air Force Reserve:
First, the boss and I want to thank you for all you have done throughout this historic year and what you will do in the coming year.
No matter where you are, whether deployed or at your home station, 2020 brought some significant challenges. Your unrelenting commitment to service in the face of these challenges has been commendable. As a command team, we have drawn strength from the resolve you have shown as Airmen.
Before moving on, I want to give a quick shout-out to the 514th Air Mobility Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. The Freedom Wing had three nominees for the Air Force’s Outstanding Airman of the Year award, with Tech. Sgt. Nicole Gansert going on to win at the Air Force level.
The boss and I had planned to recognize our outstanding teammates in person, but opted for a virtual engagement due to COVID. As we were preparing for this visit, two things stood out to me.
The first is that the Freedom Wing, like every unit in the Air Force Reserve, has more heroes than can be counted. The Reserve Citizen Airmen serving there were on the front lines of the pandemic in their military and civilian capacities, like so many of you from across our nation.
I’ve had the chance to read about New York City firefighters, police officers and medical professionals who also serve in the 514th, and have seen similar stories across our command. We don’t start our messages with “Heroes of the Air Force Reserve” because it’s catchy; we start them with those words because they are absolutely true.
The second thing that stood out is just how much the pandemic has disrupted our normal routines. We haven’t gotten to do nearly as many unit visits as we would have liked, and those we have done have required significantly more planning to ensure everyone’s safety.
I’m sure that many of you have felt this frustration in your personal lives, having to do risk assessments and make decisions about shifting holiday traditions to a virtual format. This can definitely add to seasonal stress. It has for me personally.
In spite of that uncertainty, we want each of you to know there are a few things of which you can be certain. The first is that, as a command team, we cannot be more proud of each of you for your resilience and your commitment.
Second, remember that you are always part of our family, regardless of pay status. If you need help, ask and we will find the resources. If you run into any barriers, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
Once again, thank you for rising to meet the challenges of 2020. I eagerly await any challenges 2021 has to offer, because I know we will get through them together. Please continue to take care of yourselves, your families and each other. As always, it is my honor and privilege serving as your Command Chief. ■