Aurora, Colorado --
As 2010 draws down and we approach the Holiday Season, it's a good opportunity for us to reflect on the past year while preparing to celebrate with family, friends, and loved ones.
As you remember, this year we celebrated the 150th Anniversary of the Colorado National Guard's establishment in what was just a territory of the U.S. back in 1860. Today, each of you continues the proud traditions a few citizen soldiers began in the streets of Denver those many years ago. I'm sure they would be astounded at what they started and yet proud of what has evolved into an elite Colorado Air National Guard that, as our Mission Statement says, stands prepared to "provide mission ready Air and Space Forces to Combatant Commanders and support to community, state and nation". You all are, and continue to be, ready to do just that and I am honored to count myself among you in that cause.
Again this year we saw inspections across the Wing that resulted in more often than not, our exceeding the required standards. In fact, in the most recent NORAD Alert Force Evaluation, we were singled out for having performed the best of any ASA unit in 2010. Your attention to detail along with a dedication to each other, are what set our Wing apart from the others again this year. You are to be congratulated.
We also saw the first combat deployment of our 200th AS to the Middle East along with countless others of you in the Wing who volunteered for duty far from home and loved ones. And oh by the way, often in harm's way. Sadly, you're not thanked enough for your selfless service by a nation that seems more interested in Tiger's or some Kardashian's issues. But please know, you are the reason the streets of America are as safe as they are, because you have helped keep the fight over there. Indeed, you are due a large thanks for your service, as are your families and employers. We can never overestimate the impact your being gone has on them. They truly bear the brunt of your service and are due a huge thanks as well.
Once again this year the Falcon Air Meet went off without a hitch and has been described as the best seen to date. To those of you who traveled to Jordan to support the efforts over there while staying in not so terrific accommodations, thanks again for what you did. Your efforts continue to make a positive impression of the U.S. and Colorado in that part of the world. Meanwhile, we closed out the year with a terrific deployment to CRUZEX in Brazil, representing the U.S. for the first time in the largest South American air exercise ever. You too represented us all with great spirit and pride.....and thanks especially to those of you who got stuck on the "three hour tour" for more than you bargained for. Welcome home!
As the year closes, we who are fortunate to be home need to remember that we will have wingmen who are deployed and will be far from loved ones again this year. Please say a quiet prayer for them and their family's well being and safety these special days. Being separated is never easy, but especially at this time of year. Also, keep in mind those men and women serving our 24/7 missions at Buckley and Greeley during the holidays. And lastly, remember that many in our Wing lost loved ones in 2010, and the holidays will be tough to enjoy without them to share. My thoughts go out to each of you.
Finally, you may remember the issues we had last year concerning drinking and driving. We made a concerted effort in 2010 to reverse a bad trend, and knock on wood, we're off to a better start this holiday season. But let's don't rest on our laurels yet. All of you need to look out for yourselves and each other especially as the celebrations kick into high gear these next few weeks. You are WAY too important to have something horrible happen to you. So please, celebrate responsibly and DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE. And along those lines here is a link to a short video that I direct each of you to view. It's very dramatic but so are the possible results of hurting yourself or worse, an innocent victim.
Again, on behalf of your Wing leadership, and from my family to you and yours, our best wishes for a safe and enjoyable Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year. I look forward to 2011 and continuing our service together.