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Servicemembers' sacrifice fuels the Pacific theater

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- George Washington, in his Presidential State of the Union address of December of 1793, said, "If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it. If we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war."

As members of the U.S. Air Force, we are all charged with and expected to maintain maximum readiness. This state of readiness, usually tracked with statistics and mandatory reporting procedures, is better measured by an Airman's state of mind. The men and women of the armed services are deployed all over the world, many with little to no notice, and many who are put in harm's way.

While we devote much of our attention to shot records, wills and powers of attorney, we also need to reflect on our personal readiness. Are you ready to give up your holidays? Your weekends? Is your family ready to lend you to your service?

The quick and easy answer should be a resounding YES, but sometimes reality produces a more hesitant affirmation and one in which we must be able to address.

We were unprepared for the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. None of us could foresee how it would change our lives both personally and professionally. Still today, we cannot predict the next conflict and the impact it will have, but it is our duty to be ready when it occurs.

For example, in November 2010, Airmen were deployed to the 82nd RS on a Pacific theater rotation which was scheduled to end the day before Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, regional events dictated otherwise. After multiple extensions and uncertain outcomes, they finally departed back to Offutt on Dec. 23.

As you can imagine, this was a stressful time both for the active duty personnel and their families. Plans were changed, vacations were lost, and Christmas rapidly moved closer on the calendar. Everyone approached their duty in true military fashion as they were ready and willing to answer their nation's call.

Don't get me wrong - there were nights of restless sleep, long hours, and seven-day work weeks. However, there were no complaints. Everyone knew their duty and the families back home lent their support as they always do.

It is this standard everyone in the 55th Wing upholds. From the Pacific, to the Middle East, to Europe and all points in-between, the Fightin' 55th is a constant, stabilizing force. The Airmen are proud of our Wing's mission and understand its vital importance to our nation's defense. The families are supportive because they understand the sacrifice and know that without their strength, our mission could fail.

I was lucky enough to witness their dedication firsthand, and I am proud to serve with these Recce Warriors and their families.