Independence Day: A Celebration of Freedom

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. James Hecker
  • 18th Wing commander
Team Kadena,

Our great nation has enjoyed independence now for 237 years. As we celebrate with our friends and families this weekend, let's not forget those who sacrificed so we can enjoy the freedoms we have today.

It is because of our brave Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen who answered our nation's call that we are able to live in freedom. Because of their selfless service and yours, our nation continues to stand as a beacon of hope to the entire world.

Take this time to relax, decompress, and recharge -- you deserve it!

During your time off, remember to keep safety at the forefront when planning your activities.

Water safety is a major concern on Okinawa, so regularly check sea and weather conditions. Everyone must have a buddy with them when going in the water and never combine alcohol with water activities. Ensure you have all the necessary water safety gear with you, and the training to properly use it.

Tragically, at my last assignment, we lost a technical sergeant to drowning. After he jumped into the water off of a pontoon boat, the wind took it away and he couldn't catch up. His girlfriend didn't know how to drive the boat. She and his daughter could only watch helplessly as he drowned.

Please practice safety out of the water as well. Do not drink and drive, or ride with anyone who has been drinking. In Okinawa, even the passengers are charged if they are riding with a drunk driver.

For our avid motorcycle riders, remember to wear all your personal protective equipment and avoid excessive speeds. The Okinawa roads are not built for speed.

Our goal is to have zero fatalities and prevent needless mishaps, but that requires each of us being aware of our surroundings and taking action when we see a potential hazard. We need you healthy and mission ready!

From the Hecker family, thank you for all that you do for our nation and our regional allies.
You are the Keystone of the Pacific. Happy Fourth of July!