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Reservists operating in Southwest Asia meeting challenges of service head-on.

"Service before self." We're all familiar with this phrase as one of our core values. However, in late June and early July, I had the distinct privilege and honor to witness, first hand, the incredible service of our Total Force serving in Spain and at various locations throughout Southwest Asia.

I cannot adequately describe my feeling of pride as I visited and thanked hundreds of Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen from every component for the incredible job they are doing under some extreme conditions. You can read about it and watch it on television, but until you are there and actually feel the heat and see the dust, you cannot fully comprehend the difficulty of the conditions in which they are performing their duties.

The highlight of my first year as your commander has definitely been visiting many of our Air Force Reservists who are operating in the U.S. Central Command area of operations. I visited three air bases in Iraq and one in Afghanistan where our Reservists are located. I sought out as many troops as possible to personally thank them for what riley are doing for our Air Force and our nation.

These Airmen are totally focused on the mission. Many are on tours of 120 or 180 days, and, of course, they are all volunteers. That is the life-blood of our air expeditionary force participation. We also have many more Airmen who are mobilized and deployed throughout the area of responsibility. All told, there are thousands of our fellow Reservists supporting our nation's efforts around the world.

Those in CENTCOM live in particularly harsh conditions. We have crew chiefs and security forces personnel who spend 12 to 14 hours a day in temperatures reaching 115 degrees and higher. I didn't hear a single complaint from any Airman about his or her duties or living conditions.

We have C-130 and C-17 aircrew members who are flying very long, hazardous missions over very long duty days. I wish I could have seen each one of them, to personally thank them, but they were out doing their important duties. I hope those Airmen who I was able to talk to will pass on my appreciation for what they are doing. They are each contributing to the security and freedom of the Iraqi and Afghan peoples.

We want to celebrate the service of these fine expeditionary Airmen in this issue of Citizen Airman. We must remember that, in answering the call to duty, our Citizen Airmen are faced with unique challenges in balancing the demands of their employers and families as well as those of the nation.

Yet, as I personally saw in my visit, the men and women of the Air Force Reserve, along with dedicated people from every component and service, are meeting the challenges head-on and serving selflessly as they defend our values of freedom and liberty. I salute you.
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Title Annotation:From the Top
Author:Bradley, John A.
Publication:Citizen Airman
Date:Aug 1, 2005
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Next Article:Deadline nears: reservists have until December to register civilian employers.

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