We look back on our service with fond memories and enduring gratitude for the thousands of men and women with whom we have been privileged to serve...
General Lance W. Lord, Commander, Air Force Space Command.
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PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – The last 37 years have come and gone in a flash. As Beccy and I depart for civilian life, we look back on our service with fond memories and enduring gratitude for the thousands of men and women with whom we have been privileged to serve. You, the men and women of our United States Air Force, form the foundation of everything we are—and at the core of that foundation are the values so vital to our success, “Integrity, Service and Excellence.”
These core values guide our path, no matter what unforeseen dangers lay ahead. During my brief service as an Airman I have seen remarkable people living our values every day. Whether active duty, guard, reserve, civilian or contractor, we are grateful for your extraordinary commitment to defend the United States and protect the freedoms every American enjoys.
I write this letter not just to those currently serving, but also to all those who have gone before and on whose shoulders we now stand. Your dedication to excellence is what sets us apart. When I first raised my right hand, we stood toe-to-toe with a formidable adversary. We woke up each day not knowing what would be asked of us but none the less determined to answer the call if needed. We delivered, and still are delivering Strategic Deterrence—that is, the “Silence” of Strategic Deterrence. The dedication to excellence of our ICBM Warriors has been and always will be the bedrock upon which this Nation’s defense is built. Even in today’s uncertain environment, the defense of the homeland starts and ends with the men and women of 20th Air Force.
Equally determined are the more than 7,500 Space Warriors of 14th Air Force. While others struggle to transform modern battlefield operations, you have already done it. Working hand-in-hand with our professionals at the Space and Missile Systems Center and the Space Innovation & Development Center, you have turned dreams into capabilities. Today, space combat effects are like the air we breathe. You don’t realize how important it is until it is taken away, then it’s all you want! The future prosperity of this Nation will depend on your ability to further innovate and deliver world-class excellence.
I have seen the value of “Service Before Self,” exemplified on nearly every continent and in every time zone. We have been at war for the last 15 years with adversaries who do not merely wish to beat us, but strive to wipe every last one of us off the surface of this planet. Today, we face an enemy, that if unchecked, will reverse hundreds of years of progress. It is only your selfless service that prevents that from happening. Today and in the future, I will rest well knowing you are standing watch.
In all my 37 years, dedication to service was never more evident than when I visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Before my first visit I was admittedly nervous. What are the right words to say to a Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, or Coast Guardsman that has been forever changed by the horrors of war? I quickly realized I didn’t need to find the words because those fine young Americans said it all. In the face of tremendous adversity and the reality of lifelong scars, they showed me what service is all about. Each one just as determined as the next to carry on and complete the mission.
Men and women of the United States Air Force and Air Force Space Command, you have taught me more than I could have ever imagined. Through it all you have set the standard for Integrity, Service and Excellence. It is your commitment to these ideals that gives me the confidence we’ll be successful as a Nation. From the Cold War to the Global War on Terror, we have faced adversity and uncertainty and risen to every challenge. I’m humbled to have been able to serve beside you.
Beccy and I can honestly say we didn’t have a favorite assignment. We enjoyed every stop along the way because of the warriors we call Airmen. We consider it an honor to have been a part of your family—part of the greatest space and missile force the world has ever known. We have been blessed. Our prayer is that God blesses each and every one of you, and may God continue to bless our Nation and the United States Air Force!