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Where are the warriors, patriots and heroes?

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- As our war on terrorism continues, we see images from the desert of American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines fighting for freedom. Images filled with BDUs and flightsuits, fighter and bomber aircraft, battleships and tanks, missiles and machine guns. True warriors, patriots and heroes seen throughout the battlefield theater -- but also I say -- look no further than our own backyard for these same types of people as well.

You don't have to be eating out of a mess kit, drinking out of a canteen or have a gas mask strapped to your side thousands of miles away from home to be fighting for freedom and contributing to the war effort. Right here at Eglin we have warriors of our own ... patriots galore ... and heroes worthy of praise. But I ask you to also look further than just to those in uniform. Yes, if you have raised your right hand and put on the uniform -- you definitely fit the bill without question. However, these same warriors, patriots and heroes can also be found in other areas fighting for freedom and defending our nation too. Our civilian employees and contractors contribute immensely to the mission of Eglin -- and throughout our Department of Defense. Their contributions should not be overlooked either as we partner together to accomplish our mission here at home in support of the war effort. If it truly is one team -- one fight ... these American warriors, patriots and heroes are certainly worthy of our thanks and recognition.

Family members also definitely make up that same list too. Could any of us work as hard or as efficiently if we didn't have support at home? Behind every Soldier, behind every Sailor, behind every Airman and Marine -- there is a spouse, child, parent, family member or special friend who in some way -- big or small -- makes it a little easier ... makes it a little more meaningful ... to do the work we have all been called to do.

The Eglin "family" has a unique, complex, diverse, and important mission ... and regardless of the type of clothing you wear -- we are all contributing to the fight for freedom, the battle against terrorism, supporting the war effort, and defending our nation. The fact that we are a bit more distant from the front lines doesn't mean we aren't playing a vital part.

The Eglin mission -- across all our wings -- is essential to our nation's defense. Eglin military, civilians, contractors, spouses, and family members can all take great pride in the part they play to support and defend our country. As we stay glued to our televisions and watch those overseas fighting much closer to the action ... remember warriors, patriots, and heroes are not just overseas.

Remember -- NOT all warfighters wear BDUs or flightsuits. Thank you spouses. Thank you family members. Thank you civilian workforce. Continue to display that Team Eglin "Attitude of Excellence" in all you do regardless of your role ... your work and support is essential and appreciated. These are trying times -- and our "military family" now more than ever. We should all feel proud of our contributions every day -- regardless of the form it takes or where you are when you are accomplishing the mission. So the next time you are looking to see how our American warriors, patriots, and heroes are doing -- look a little closer to home too. Where are these warriors, patriots, and heroes? Some are far away in distant places wearing our Team Eglin patch and making us proud ... and many are also closer than you think.

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