By Brig. Gen. Wayne Schatz
314th Airlift Wing commander
We will pause Sunday to pay tribute to America’s veterans. We will take time to personally and publicly thank the men and women who have selflessly served this great nation to project the freedoms we hold so dear.
For most of us, the word “veteran” conjures up thoughts of the men from America’s “Greatest Generation.” These were our grandfathers and their fathers, our uncles, and the gentlemen we see at the local VFW wearing their caps adorned with campaign pins. These great heroes are dying at a rate of almost 1,200 a day, and we are running out of time to pay tribute and show our gratitude.
We are Combat Airlifters and these men truly paved the way for us. Because of them, we are able to uphold our nation’s ideals today. But when you think “veterans” I want you to pause and think again. We are a new generation of American veterans. The 21-year-old Airmen you see in uniform at the grocery store, the young mother pushing her child on a swing and that captain reporting for C-130J upgrade training are all veterans too. This new generation is from an all-volunteer force, choosing of their own volition to serve and then raising their right hands and choosing to serve yet again.
The best way every one of us can give thanks to the legions of veterans who served before us is to strive to become an even greater generation. It is a tall challenge – to serve more honorably than the most honorable, to be more selfless than those who sacrificed before us, and to give even more to ensure a better tomorrow.
But I know you – you are Combat Airlifters. You are more educated, more dedicated, better equipped and more focused than any force that has come before.
And because of this, there is no doubt in my mind that the veterans I proudly serve with today will be the ones who will go down in history as the greatest generation yet!