Four days, one year later

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- At 4:10 p.m. May 25 I asked everyone at the Memorial Day ceremony to look at their watches and note the time. I then told everyone that they were alive and to keep it that way through the supersized weekend ... four days later, you did it. Well done ... no one got bent or broken and you all are heroes! Now look at your watch right now and note the time ... you are alive ... so let's see if we can keep it that way for the next 101 days.

The next 101 days will present us with a unique challenge ... we not only need to stay alive, but we also need to train our new teammates as we work through the summer personnel rotations. This will not be easy and will require a good amount of time and effort especially under the specter of an early September inspection. We ask that you commit yourselves to this important task and pay attention to ensuring our new teammates know their jobs.

One year ago we got a new mission, an air mobility mission. Today, more than 50 percent of the air cargo going into Iraq comes through Incirlik. Add that to our long enduring air refueling mission and we pack a significant air mobility punch.

Consider that a quarter of the coalition fuel requirement in Iraq comes through Turkey and combine that with the air mobility contribution from Incirlik and it is easy to see our strategic significance in the region.

Our contribution is especially rewarding as the success of our multiple missions has required a unique blend of patches from Air Mobility Command to United States Air Forces in Europe ... from active duty to Air Guard/Reserve Component ... from Transportation Command to European Command ... from Air
Force to Army ... from Turkish military to American military. You make it all look so easy. The good ones always do ... Tiger Woods never looks like he is swinging his driver hard but the golf ball always travels a mile when he hits it. Just like Tiger, you make the ballet of generating and receiving jets look like a stroll in the park.

The Air Mobility Squadron blocks in and out, loads and unloads, and fixes the jets ... the Air Expeditionary Group and its squadrons alert, brief, and manage the aircrew support ... the Logistics
Readiness Squadron refuels the jets, the Services Squadron billets and feeds the team ... the Security Forces Squadron protect the aircraft ... and the list goes on and on ... it's a ballet; it's the mastery of all the individual components of swinging a golf club and making it look as natural as taking a breath.

One year later, we are an installation with a vibrant mission and a decided purpose in our step. I got goose bumps May 25 as I asked for the "report" of our team at the Memorial Day ceremony. There we stood, a military formation, one team with many patches, with a unifying purpose, honoring those that have gone before us, and ensuring freedom's future ... all I can say is, "Wow, what difference
a year can make!"