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Thanking the men and women of MacDill for all you do

by Lt. Col. Dave Cohen
6th Air Mobility Wing, Chief of Safety

I recently deployed with the 91st Air Refueling Squadron, flying an aeromedical evacuation mission to the Pacific, moving medical patients throughout the theater. It had been a while since I'd gone out into the Air Mobility Command transportation system, and given the tropical locations, I was looking forward to it.

Our first leg was from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., to Hickam AFB, Hawaii. Of course, the thought of spending time in Hawaii, albeit less than 30 hours, was something on the entire crew's mind. In the back, the medical team was taking care of a couple of patients, one of whom was an Army Soldier returning from Iraq. Things went fine throughout the flight and we didn't give much extra thought to the patients.

Upon landing at Hickam, a number of the Soldier's unit members met our jet. As the Soldier was being offloaded for his ride to the hospital, one of his buddies came up to the cockpit, pulled me aside, and said, "I just want to thank you guys for all you do."

It made me stop. Thank me? I'd only driven a bus with wings five hours where the biggest problem I had was that I forgot to order a Diet Coke for my box lunch. This guy's injured friend was engaged in actual combat with the enemy and had nothing short of a full erector set holding his right leg together. Thank me?

I began to think about this more as we continued on subsequent legs. Our military is composed of a vast number of specialties, talents and missions. They all work together in synergies that, in spite of problems and disagreements over various issues, create the strongest combat force the planet has ever seen.

Whether we realize it or not, each of us, officer, enlisted, civilian, contractor, active duty, guard and reserve, play an integral role in how our nation conducts operations, from humanitarian, to conventional combat to special operations. Without our individual tasks and talents, the entire mission would be in jeopardy.

Let's look at what it took just to get that Soldier back to his home.

The sortie had to be tasked, scheduled and planned by mission planning experts at AMC's Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott AFB, Ill. Coordination was then passed to the schedulers in the 6th Operational Support Squadron and the 6th Maintenance Group. They arranged for the crew and jet to be available.

In the meantime, back shop and flight line maintainers ensured the jet was ready. Life support technicians inspected the crew's gear, while folks in the Flight Kitchen prepared food for the crew's trip.

6th Security Forces Squadron defenders ensured the security of the jet and flight line in vehicles maintained by the 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron.

Our Safety Office, in conjunction with Airfield Management and our Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard contractor, made sure that birds stayed off the airfield to eliminate the hazard to aircraft.

Finally, the aircrew, in coordination with MacDill Tower, got the aircraft to where it was needed.

It may sound a little clich, but there are no small jobs. If all of the pieces I just described didn't work well and in coordination with each other, the mission would not have happened and that Soldier wouldn't have made it home.

We all may not see actual combat. We all are, however, integral to the planning, coordination and execution of our nation's combat capability.

We keep our nation strong. We combat tyranny, and provide aid and comfort to those in need. The 6th Air Mobility Wing is a critical component in fighting those who threaten freedom and in providing humanitarian relief.

It is for these reasons that I pass along the Soldier's friend's words to all at MacDill AFB: "Thanks for all you do!"

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