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Honoring veterans past, present this Veterans Day

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- To the men and women of Pacific Air Forces and to veterans across the services, I offer my sincere gratitude and appreciation for your dedicated service. As you know, this Wednesday commemorates a significant date in our nation's history, a day in 1918 where a signed armistice marked an end to World War I. The historical significance of Veterans Day reminds us of the sacrifice of military service. On this day, let us honor the thousands of American veterans, past and present, for their love of country and their willingness to be a part of something bigger than themselves.



A couple of weeks ago, the University of Hawaii hosted the Air Force football team, resulting in a 58-7 victory for the Air Force. I had the privilege of attending a pep rally where I met many of our Air Force's future officers from the 2016-2019 graduating classes. One of the things that struck me was their connection to our heritage through their class exemplars. The Airmen they selected to aspire to were Maj. David "Klepto" Brodeur, Col. George "Bud" Day, and Capt. Louie "Zamp" Zamperini.



Brodeur was a decorated F-16 pilot who deployed as an advisor to the Afghan Command and Control Center and was subsequently killed in 2011 when an Afghan military trainee turned gunfire on him. Col Day served during three major wars and when shot down in Vietnam, refused to yield to his tormentors at the Hanoi Hilton for five years and seven months, escaping once despite tremendous injuries. Capt Zamperini, the subject of the book and subsequent movie "Unbroken," was a World War II bombardier who survived 47 days at sea after his plane experienced mechanical difficulties and had to ditch, only to be captured and held prisoner for two years in Japan.


Every generation has faced difficult challenges, and our generation is no exception. This Veterans Day, I ask that we reflect upon the importance of what we do. Whether you are military or civilian; active duty, Reserve or Guard; Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Airman or Coast Guardsman, each and every one of you plays a vital part in safeguarding our way of life. And, despite how much we ask of you and your families, you continue to amaze me with your character, your resilience and your devotion to duty and country. Truly, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!