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Committed to caring in CAF: Recalling deployed Christmas wishes and a time for thanks

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
  • Air Mobility Command Public Affairs
During the holiday season in 2009, I was away from my family heading to a deployment to Southwest Asia. At that time, I wrote a story while waiting in a passenger terminal for a flight on Christmas Day 2009.

Following is an excerpt from that story:

"It's 5:30 a.m. on a Christmas morning and I'm waiting for a flight that will take me through Afghanistan and then over to my deployed location in Southwest Asia. I can't help but think, 'Is this a great way to spend Christmas?' My answer to myself is simple -- 'It depends.'

"I say it depends because it all in the eye of the beholder. For me, being deployed for Christmas boils down to the simple fact that someone has to be away from home during times like this and now it's my turn. Is it what I wish for? No, but what I wish for has no bearing on the fact that as an American Airman, my duty to my country is as important to those duties to my family. With that said, I have some deployed Christmas wishes and would like to express some thankfulness to many who stand by us while deployed.

"First, I wish for my family -- my wife, children, grandchildren, mother and father, brothers and sisters, and many others to have the happiest of holidays. I hope their time together, even though I'm not there, is as joyous as it can be. I love them all and pray for their well being every day.

"Second, I wish for those who have been deployed and returning home at this time of year to know that I thank them for holding down the fort. I thank them for doing the hard work of defending our freedoms in far-away places so everyone can enjoy a happy and safe holiday season back in the comfort of their homes.

"Next, I wish for continued success for all the Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines I'm deployed with for the next number of months. May we all come home safe and pronounce to our families that we have been successful in our deployed duties.

"In my (then) 18 years of military service, there is little doubt I would have made it this far without the support of one very special person -- my wife Bobbi. To her I am so thankful for not only what she has done for me, but for all of the Air Force.

"Bobbi has spent many years volunteering to make life better for our Air Force families -- all without asking for anything in return. If "service before self" could apply to someone, it's her. Her countless thousands of hours supporting families of deployed members, the military community in general, and me and our family should not go without mention. She is my one true wingman and without her, going on what is now my seventh deployment would not be possible. Thank you Bobbi and I love you for all you do.

"I'm also thankful for the people who support our military. On my way to Southwest Asia, there were so many people who did many things to make the transition from being at home station to being deployed much easier. From those volunteers who spent their time in airport terminals helping military members feel more at home in an unfamiliar place to those in my hometown who wish only the best of success for my deployment, I want to say thank you for your support. The people behind the scenes who provide the support for the military are hour unheralded heroes and I thank you.

"I also want to thank my Air Force family. Wherever I go, no matter the location, seeing a friendly Airman's face is beyond comforting. To be around people whose moral character and of this professional caliber make me proud to be among them. Thank you America's Airmen. You are truly the best.

"As this Christmas Day passes, and as I board the Air Mobility Command airlifter that will take me to my new home away from home, I'll keep all of what I said as a solid reminder that serving in our military is a privelege and all those who stand behind us are special people."

Two years later, during the holiday season of 2011, those wishes and the thankfulness to all are as strong as they were then. In our Air Force today we have the Comprehensive Airman Fitness culture that is based on social, spiritual, physical and mental fitness. That in turn builds resiliency in all of us.

During the holidays, remember all those deployed service members who are away from their families and what they are sacrificing to protect our freedoms as they serve abroad. Remember that it is up to us on the homefront and everywhere to do our best to take care of them and their families while they are deployed.

Be thankful for what they are doing and wish them the best. As I recall those days of being deployed, I also know that the resiliency myself and my family has built has come from all of us taking care of each other and doing the best we can in service to our country. Take care of each other and have a great holiday season where you are "committed to caring" for each other.

For more on AMC's Comprehensive Airman Fitness culture, visit the CAF Web Page at http://www.amc.af.mil/caf.  

(Note: This is the 24th in a series of 24 stories for 2011 by Air Mobility Command Public Affairs highlighting the Comprehensive Airman Fitness culture through a "commitment of caring." Comprehensive Airman Fitness, or CAF, is built on "four pillars" of fitness -- physical, social, mental and spiritual fitness -- and five "Cs" -- caring, committing, communicating, connecting and celebrating. "Comprehensive Airman Fitness reflects our commitment to developing a holistic approach to caring for our people that equips, enables and empowers everyone to grow more physically, socially, mentally and spiritually fit," Gen. Raymond E. Johns, Jr., AMC commander said in June 2010 while addressing CAF to AMC wing commanders. "It's not another program, but rather, a means to enhance mission effectiveness by intentionally investing in one another.")