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Commemorating 2008, looking toward another great year

Buckley AFB, Colo. --
As the Holiday Season approaches I want to take this opportunity to wish you all the best as 2008 comes to a close. Indeed, our plate was full again this year as we continued to do the great work our Nation's Guard has done for over three centuries of service as the Militia.

We began the year with a great deal of our Wing deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and F-16 Combat Operations. We are once again preparing for a return to Balad this coming summer, with folks recently deployed to Green Flag East In 2008.  Inspections were again at the forefront as our 137th Space Warning Squadron completed their Phase I and II Operational Readiness Inspection and Unit Compliance Inspection, along with our Medical Group's Health Services Inspection. In April of this year, we welcomed home one of our own as we laid to rest our last MIA from the '68 call-up to Southeast Asia, Major Perry Jefferson. Then in October, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the call up at a reunion in honor of our Veterans at Wings Over the Rockies Museum, attended by more than 500 current and former 140th Wing members. And we won't soon forget our support of the Democratic National Convention in August as the Air Guard assisted in our domestic mission; something we in the COANG don't get to do a lot of, although members of the 137th Space Warning Squadron were among the first responders to the Windsor tornado.

Again in 2008, we had wingmen raise their hand in support of the Global War on Terror to deploy all around the world. And as this Holiday season arrives, we will have 14 members deployed away from their families and homes; please keep them all in your thoughts.

Finally, the daily work of the Wing continued successfully throughout this past year. We supported numerous VIP, ASA and airlift missions as our 200th AS flew over 1500 hours worldwide. We also provided 58 F-16 flybys showcasing the COANG colors to our local communities. Tours, ESGR Day, Educator Day and several speeches at schools and community events across Colorado continue to exemplify to all what an outstanding group of individuals you are. And let us not forget that every single day our Airmen are at the ready at both Buckley and Greeley in support of the defense of our nation on either F-16 alert or space-based missile launch detection. You all are deserving of our nation's highest praise!

Our Wing PA staff has come up with an outstanding WEB page that I encourage you to make a favorite and view often. It is located at: http://www.140wg.ang.af.mil/ and it can be viewed from any home or office computer. If you forget the address, just Google 140th Wing, and you'll find it. On that page are several key links to include, How to Join the Unit, How to Request a Flyby, Official AF Links, UTA Dates and drill Schedules, as well as Commander's Comments. This is a working page that is kept up to date and will be how we plan to communicate with you in the future. Please take a look and use it often.

One last point of emphasis. My focus this coming year will be on Recruiting and Retention. In April of this past year, we official gained an additional 100+ positions in the Wing, and we have yet to fill them all. As such we are currently manned at approximately 93%. All of us are recruiters, everyday, and we need to make known what we as the Colorado Air National Guard have to offer. Please spread the word and let's get this Wing manned to 100 percent in 2009.

As we close the year, I continue to be amazed at you and all you do. What an incredible privilege it is for me to serve for and with you as your Wing Commander. It is a role I don't take lightly and I promise to fight for what you deserve, sing your praises as often as I can, and do my best, along with all of your Commanders, to ensure we continue to be properly organized, trained, and equipped to do our nation's heroic work. My thanks to you all for your focus as we prepare for a busy year ahead of us with an F-16 Phase I ORI, an Alert Force Evaluation, and another desert rotation in the AEF. Beyond that, I see a break in the action when as a Wing, we will finally get to take a breath from a dizzying few years of incredible action. I recognize the need for that pause and will do my utmost to make sure you have that chance to get caught up.

In the meantime, please share with your families both Deb and my sincere wishes for a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, and a healthy, safe, and prosperous New Year. Please continue to take care of each other and know how important each of you are to me and our 140th Wing. You are the best and the brightest, and I thank you personally for your heroic efforts, every single day.