AAC commander sends Memorial Day message

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gen. Kenneth Merchant
  • Air Armament Center commander
Memorial Day is a chance for us as a nation to remember our fallen heroes. Earlier this month, we unveiled the names of 18 heroes who gave their lives honorably in defense of our freedom.  They represent only a few of the more than 400 men and women who were killed in action in the last year alone.  These joint Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians answered our nation's call voluntarily and paid the ultimate sacrifice.

In the first four months of 2012, some of our own made a very different call. Sixteen men and women made a choice to put their careers in jeopardy by driving under the influence of alcohol.  They didn't save any lives or protect our freedoms by their choice; in fact their decision put the very people we have sworn to protect at risk.  They will now pay the price for a moment's poor decision.  I'm serious about putting an end to this trend, and we're actively working on solutions.  The best solution however will come from each of you committing to adopt a culture in which having a few drinks and getting behind the wheel of a car is not considered normal.

I can't emphasize the importance of summer safety awareness.  Every year, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the Air Force experiences a higher rate of off-duty fatalities and injuries.  We kicked off this year's "101 Critical Days of Summer Safety Campaign" at the Eglin Enlisted Heritage Hall last Thursday.  We had great speakers with sound advice to ensure every one of us makes it through the summer safely. Please take their guidance to heart.

I want you all to enjoy yourselves this long weekend.  We all need to ensure that during this time off we don't relax our standards, become complacent, or disregard our military bearing in any way.  We're all representatives of Team Eglin whether we're on the reservation or downtown so please make us proud.

Thank you for all you've done to advance our great mission this year. I invite you to spend time with family and to take a moment to remember our fallen heroes. But in all you do, remember to be safe...think ahead, have a plan and execute it.