Well done Flying Tigers--you continue to make us proud!

  • Published
  • By by Col. Kenneth E. Todorov
  • 23rd Wing Commander
Last Saturday's Annual Awards Banquet was absolutely outstanding and capped an absolutely spectacular year for the 23rd Wing Flying Tigers. That night, we honored our most precious resource--our Airmen! Uniformed and civilian Airmen...The best of the best!
Thanks to all of you who had a hand in making that night a big success--the Annual Awards Planning Committee, the Air Force Reserve Command Band from Warner Robbins Air Force Base, Ga., the staff and students from our Jason D. Cunningham Airman Leadership School, and our partners from the 93rd Air and Ground Operations Wing. 
You can talk all you want about our airplanes, our weaponry, our training, our facilities, our technology--the list goes on. All of those things are important to be sure, but it's our people that truly make this wing and this installation spectacular! All Airmen in this wing can be very proud of our accomplishments. 

Last Saturday was also one of the few times when we gathered representatives from the entire wing together in one place; it was great to see so many of our Airmen from the 563rd Rescue Group from Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., and Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., make the trip. 

Of course, we shared our evening with representatives from Valdosta, Lowndes and Berrien County, and many other "downtown friends". There's no community, anywhere that supports its Airmen and its installation better than our local supporters! We're so fortunate to live and work at a base that has the full support of our community. They are absolutely a big part of our success! 

Indeed, 2008 was an absolutely spectacular year for the 23rd Wing! From all parts of the wing, in all parts of the country, to all parts of this globe, our wing was wildly successful at home and while engaged in combat operations. We "Attacked" when ordered and had our enemies on the run--"Rescued" when called upon to do our noble duty--and "Protected" 24/7/365 without fail. 

We deployed time and time again--to obvious places like Iraq, Afghanistan and The Horn of Africa, but also to less obvious locations like Peru, the Philippines, and Palau. On average more than 600 Airmen were deployed every single day; at one point last month, that number topped 1,000! 

Back home we answered our Nations call when Hurricane's Ike and Gustav reared their ugly heads; forged ties and relationships with Foreign Nations and U.S. Government Interagency partners at exercises like Angel Thunder; successfully dealt with wing cracks, aircraft modifications, and center wing boxes; completed a BRAC move; continued the $118M investment in our infrastructure--all on time and on budget; and most importantly, took care of our fellow Airmen, our spouses and our children though medical care, family friendly programs; education and training. 

The common thread in all of this success is our Airmen. We gathered last Saturday to honor them. Yes, to honor all the nominees and award winners, but I'm sure as each of them would tell you, to honor the entire wing team. Not one of our honorees last Saturday night could do it alone--they would tell you, as humble leaders, the awards banquet and their award was about all of us, and our collective success as a wing. 

Yes indeed, 2008 was a great year. And I'm optimistic that 2009 will be even better. To our honorees and winners for 2008, I say--Congratulations, be proud--you've earned it! But to all Flying Tigers, I say--Congratulations, be proud--you've earned it too! 

Well done Flying Tigers!