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A Fond Farewell

  • Published
  • By Col. John Gordy
  • 43rd Airlift Wing
There are times in all of our lives when we are prompted to remember the sacrifices of those who fought for freedom and paved the path for us today. Whether it is a holiday like Memorial Day or Veterans Day, or an internationally impactful event like 9/11, we all have emotions drawn at different times and for different reasons. 

You know it, and I know it: Team Pope is at the front of the fight in the Global War on Terrorism. Several of our warfighting partners have lost teammates in battle since 9/11, and the loss of Senior Airman Ashton Goodman on May 26 should be the starkest reminder of the day to day sacrifice you and your families make. Ashton was a vehicle operator from the 43rd Logistics Readiness Squadron. At 21 years old, she was on her second deployment, a 365-day rotation with a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan. She was at the front of the fight, impacting hundreds of citizens in the Panjshir region on a daily basis, specifically the women, with whom she worked to advance their social and economic development. 

Ashton would do anything to help someone in need, as expressed by her willingness to join our military in a time of war and stepping up twice to volunteer for deployments. She will be missed by her friends and co-workers, who will remember her fun-loving attitude and ability to brighten anyone's day, and she will be missed by her fellow Airmen who had the honor of serving next to a true professional that served her country well, honorably and with the greatest commitment a member of the military can make - life itself. 

I hope you had the opportunity to attend the memorial service yesterday. It was a touching and fitting tribute to an Airman that made a difference in the lives of others every day. But even if you did not, Ashton's sacrifice should be a reminder for all of us: a reminder of the differences we can make and the differences we should make, a reminder, truly, that Individual Actions do Matter. 

Today is my last official day as your Vice Wing Commander. I wish I could go to each and every one of you to give my personal thanks for all you do for this base and our Air Force, but we all know that just isn't possible...especially with our ops tempo. One year ago, when I arrived at Pope for my second tour, I wrote in my first commentary how impressive the base looked and how excited I was to be back at Pope. I knew I was about to work with the best Airmen our Air Force has to offer and you did not disappoint. Just in this year alone, you blew away the LSEP, nailed the ORI and whether you know it or not, you all contributed to over 40 AMC awards and 10 Air Force Awards! Additionally, you won Command Post of the Year for AMC and 22d Air Force; you won best medium security forces in AMC and you earned honors as the best clinic in the Air Force...just to name a few. These accomplishments are almost unheard of for a base our size but goes to show that you truly are the best of the best. As I depart for a new and challenging assignment in the AOR, know that each and every one of you will always hold a special place in my heart and that it was, without a doubt, MY honor to have served alongside each of you. 

Thank you for the sacrifices you and your families are making today as a member of the world's greatest Air Force. Keep focusing on what you can do to make your Individual Actions Matter and always take care of your Wingman!