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Holiday message to 5th Air Force Airmen

  • Published
  • By Lt. Gen. Ed Rice
  • Commander, 5th Air Force and U.S. Forces Japan
As we enter this holiday season, many of us will gather together with our friends and family to spend time with those we love, celebrate our faith and reflect on what we hold dear. I ask each of you to also take a moment and reflect on what you have accomplished for our Air Force, our nation and this entire region. This year, 5th Air Force provided dozens of aircraft and deployed more than 1,000 Airmen to support Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom and operations in South Korea. Our Airmen helped provide shelter, food and care for thousands after natural disasters struck the Pacific. Your efforts during joint and bilateral exercises enhanced our combat readiness, improved interoperability and strengthened one of America's most important alliances. Teresa and I extend our sincere thanks for your hard work and dedication throughout the past year. Let us not forget those who are deployed. They are in harm's way so that we all may enjoy this season in peace. But we must also remember those who remain behind. Many Airmen and families will spend the holidays here separated from their loved ones. This time of year can cause additional stress, financial burden or feelings of depression, and statistics show suicide rates increase during the holiday season. Pacific Air Forces experienced two suicides this year, and one of those was a member of the 5th Air Force family. The loss of even one Airman or family member is a tragedy. Don't allow this season of joy and good will to become a grieving period for your family and friends. Practice good wingmanship and check in on your fellow Airmen and friends who may need your help. This is the Year of the Air Force Family, and I can think of no better way to celebrate than spending time with your loved ones and thanking them for their continued support. Unwind in holiday cheer, but do so wisely. You are all vital to your families and to 5th Air Force. At this special time of the year, Teresa and I wish you a safe and rewarding holiday season.