By General Edward A. Rice Jr.
Commander of Air Education and Training Command
RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Thanksgiving is a holiday of reflection, a look back at the many things we are thankful for, and Teresa and I want to first thank each of you and your families for the great things you do for our nation. It is your commitment and professionalism that allow Air Education and Training Command to develop the next generation of Airmen.
The First Command is an organization of wingmen dedicated to seeing each other succeed. One such example was Brad Shimp, an Air Force Recruiting Service Internet advisor, who took actions to save an Airman’s life when his resilience was at its lowest. Brad could have passed the Airman off to another hotline or professional, but he stayed on the line, made the connections to save the Airman’s life and in less than an hour, his first sergeant was knocking on his door to help him through the trying times.
We saw it again when 1st Lt. Ryan McGuire graduated pilot training – the first officer to do so as an amputee. Through his own sweat and determination, he overcame and succeeded, but he could not have done it without his wingmen there to support and encourage him.
We also have countless mission successes to be thankful for. For instance, two AETC C-17 crews from Altus AFB supported combat operations in Libya as part of Operation ODYSSEY DAWN. On a moment’s notice, they were ready to transition from their day-to-day training operations to real-world contingency operations.
Also, due to the motivated street and specialty recruiters of our Air Force Recruiting Service, we met 100 percent of the active-duty enlisted and line-officer recruiting goals for the fiscal year. In addition, we graduated the first class of combat systems officers, our Air Advisors taught countless Iraqi and Afghan Airmen to lead their services, and we welcomed the arrival of the first F-35ALightning II joint strike fighters to Eglin AFB. With too many to recount here, these are just a few examples of our successes and each is a testament to the dedication of the professionals within The First Command.
Lest we forget, there were sorrows this year as well. For some AETC families, this Thanksgiving will never be the same as they mourn Airmen who lost their lives. May we never forget them and may we continue to keep faith with their families as they will always be part of our Air Force family.
As you take this opportunity to recharge and relax with family and friends, I ask each of you to use good judgment and make sound choices. Watch out for your wingman. Have a plan...don’t drink and drive. Use caution when travelling and don’t overextend yourselves. Our nation needs all of you back safely, ready to continue the mission.
Teresa and I thank each of you and your families for your service to our nation and we wish you all a safe and joyous Thanksgiving holiday.