Honoring the legacy of heroes

HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii -- For all of us in uniform and those who support our great nation as part of our Air Force team, Memorial Day is a special holiday.

Memorial Day observances began following the Civil War when it was known as Decoration Day. This day was dedicated to honoring those who had died during the Civil War. Today, these observances honor all Americans who have given their lives in service to our nation.

In the Pacific you do not have to look far to find grounds and waters where heroic Airmen fought and died. During the December 1941 attack on Hickam Field, some 60 Airmen lost their lives in the building where PACAF headquarters is now located. There were Doolittle Raiders who did not come home, F-86 pilots shot down in MiG Alley and B-52 crews lost over North Vietnam during Operation Linebacker. We have lost 83 Airmen in Iraq and Afghanistan - one of the most recent was Staff Sgt. Timothy Bowles from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska who was killed when his vehicle was destroyed by an improvised explosive device.

Today's Air Force is the greatest Air Force in the world because of the spirit and tenacity of our Airmen - men and women who understand sacrifice and serve a cause greater than themselves.

With Memorial Day also comes the beginning of the 101 Critical Days of Summer, a period that historically includes the accidental deaths of too many of our Airmen. Be especially vigilant as summer approaches and look after your wingman.

Eva-Marie and I thank you for your service and wish you a safe holiday weekend.