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Saying Thanks To The Unsung Heroes

  • Published
  • By Col. John McDonald
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Commander
Webster's defines "hero" as "a large sandwich consisting of a long split roll having a variety of fillings, such as meats, cheeses, lettuce, tomatoes and onions." 

This commentary has nothing to do with sandwiches, but it definitely has to do with heroes. I am using this space to say THANKS to all of the heroes that make up the families that support us day after day as we serve our nation. 

I'm sure it's happened to you more times than you can count: you go out to lunch somewhere off base, you are in uniform, and at some point someone will walk up to you and thank you for your service. 

It's great to know that we have the support of the citizens in the community everyday. But if this happens to you again and your family happens to be there with you, let the person showing their gratitude know that you wouldn't be able to serve the country were it not for the family members that stay in lock step with us through all the trials and tribulations.
A lot of Team Pope is deploying on a regular schedule of six to 12 months at home and four to six months abroad; when we're not deploying, we may be going TDY for training, working extended shifts or preparing to uproot our families for another PCS. 

No matter what, our families fight many obstacles many never face, and serve as our main source of strength. They understand what we do, why we do it, and appreciate the sacrifices we make. The least we can do as Airmen is reciprocate by constantly reminding them how crucial they are to our successes and letting them know about the support network THEY have here at Pope, one that can help ease some of the unique challenges that come with being a military family member. 

The Airman and Family Readiness Center offers any spouse a chance to become an integral part of their Airman's squadron with the Phoenix Spouse program. To me, a good Phoenix Spouse is as important to the productivity and morale of a squadron as any Airman could be. They take care of the deployed Airmen's families; they organize squadron-wide recreational outings, and they serve as a key information source for commanders. 

If you have a chance to get over to the A&FRC, I think you'll be amazed to learn about the numerous programs we offer to reward and support our families -- there's no reason for a spouse or a family member to feel like they are alone. Additionally, if you want to have a greater impact, there are tremendous opportunities to volunteer. 

Talking about the importance of family, today at 4 p.m., we will have six great Americans - and military family members - visiting Pope to help us dedicate the Wing Headquarters Building and its adjoining Parade Ground to former 43rd Airmen and Medal of Honor Recipients Lt. Col. Jay Zeamer Jr. and Lt. Joseph Sarnoski, respectively. 

Barbara Zeamer, the wife of Colonel Zeamer, and her four daughters will help Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott, 18th Air Force Commander unveil the new sign on the front of the headquarters building, while Mr. Jim Rimbisz, the nephew of Lieutenant Sarnoski, will join General Scott in unveiling the parade ground monument honoring Lieutenant Sarnoski. 

These folks are coming from across the country to join us today. It's not because they have to; they're joining us because they have a deep respect for the service their loved ones provided to our country, and their presence is a way of thanking us for continuing to carry the legacy forged by Colonel Zeamer and Lieutenant Sarnoski. 

The Zeamers and the Sarnoskis are examples of the finest military families. They are making the sacrifice and taking the time to join us today, and I hope you will too. With Military Family Appreciation Week on the horizon Nov. 17-21, we'll continue to take care of you, the finest Airmen the Air Force has to offer. And as always please remember to "Fall Back on Safety," keep your eye on your WINGMAN and never be THAT GUY!