Never forget

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- This week, the 21st Space Wing reflected on the heroism of tens of thousands of Americans who endured the hardships of enemy confinement, and those whose fate, in time of war, remains unknown.

Our wing hosted a series of week-long events including a reveille ceremony, candlelight vigil, an information booth, a retreat ceremony, a 24-hour run, and a remembrance ceremony to cap off the week. Each event offered an opportunity to commemorate the selfless sacrifice of our nation's Prisoners of War and Missing in Action. These Americans faced the worst of all wars in an effort to preserve the best of America. The events of this week ensured our wing will never forget their sacrifices.

Though we stood in remembrance as one small group, we stood united in honoring these patriots. In fact, we had the privilege to stand alongside U.S. Air Force Col. (ret.) George "Bud" Day; a true patriot whose heroism was awarded the Medal of Honor after being held captive for five years, seven months in North Vietnam. And on Sept. 19, we'll have the added privilege of hearing retired Tech. Sgt. Charles "Chuck" Blaney, an Army
Air Force B-24 "Liberator" radio operator and top turret gunner, share his account of time served in World War II. His aircraft was shot down by Messerschmitt 262 jet aircraft over Hamburg, Germany, during his 23rd combat mission; he was held captive until the end of the war. I thank both of these men for sharing their valiant stories and presence with the men and women of the 21st SW.

It goes without saying that the events of this week would not have been possible without the support of many people. There were also hundreds of Airmen who participated in the 24-hour POW/MIA run. In particular, I wish to thank Senior Master Sgt. Treassia Hall; Master Sgts. Russell Buxton, David Pesch, Andrew Holland, William Davis; Tech Sgts. Jacob Miller, Lashawna Harn, Emily Smith, Staff Sgt. Michael Smith, The Lion's Club and the Knights of Columbus. There were also dozens of support personnel who assisted and I thank you all. I'd especially like to thank Senior Master Sgt. Scott Sippel, who took the lead on this year's events. Thank you for making this week a memorable one for us all.

Another notable event which transpired this week was the reopening of the recently renovated front entrance and parking lot of the 21st Medical Group's medical treatment facility. After being under construction for nearly nine months, the new front entrance and parking lot will resume full operations as the primary entry and exit point for more than 24,000 beneficiaries annually. The entrance permits easier access to the pharmacy, pediatric clinic, Aerospace Medicine, women's health clinic and patient administration. Completion of this project represents the end of phase six of a 12-phase, $10 million, renovation project in building 959. Falling directly in line with unsurpassed installation support and protection, one-third of our overall mission, the project design incorporates many of the latest technologies to meet the new force protection and antiterrorism standards.

Lastly, our Air Force celebrated its 61st year since its inception as a separate service, beginning when Harry Truman signed the National Security Act on Sept. 18, 1947. Today, our Air Force is the greatest air, space and cyberspace force the world has ever seen, and is a result of the best and brightest professionals a service can ask for. I am extremely proud to serve alongside each and every one of you.