Commentary by Senior Master Sgt. Mike Hammond
JBER Public Affairs
10/2/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Editors
note: Hammond, JBER Public Affairs superintendent, recently returned
from an Afghanistan deployment with the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing.
"Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." -- Theodore Roosevelt
As a proud daddy to five children, I would disagree with President
Roosevelt in that I believe becoming a parent is the best prize in life
itself. That said, I could not agree with him more when it comes to the
job ... or in the case of those of us in uniform, our way of life - our
service. To work hard at work worth doing is truly a prize, and it's one
I've been blessed to receive in the past two months I've been on loan
to NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan and the 438th Air Expeditionary
Wing in Kabul, Afghanistan.
My stay was far briefer than almost everyone I know here - many of whom
are serving or wrapping up tours of about a year. A year away from
family and friends back home is a huge sacrifice for them, but I've come
to see in just a short time how valuable and inspiring (and special)
this mission of ours is. Simply put: how many people get the chance to
shape and enable a nation's Air Force?
Knowing what we know from the history of airpower, if you own air and
space you have a huge advantage in any engagement or endeavor. This is
an advantage our partners, the Afghans, surely need in their desire to
meet their nation's security needs now and in the future. When our
efforts together as a coalition of advisors and mentors are complete, I
hope to see a future where Afghan soldiers on the ground have the
advantages our own troops enjoy: never having to fear enemy attack from
the air; having eyes in the sky to point out the bad guys before the bad
guys know they're coming; and having help in the form of close air
support, casualty evacuation, medical transport, and cargo/personnel
movement as the missions require.
During the time I've been here, I have gotten to meet an all-star team
of sharp, dedicated, and highly motivated airmen - not just from our own
nation but our NATO partners and Afghan counterparts as well.
The advisors are absolutely invested heart and soul into the success of
the Afghans. The Afghans I've personally met and seen at work are not
only friendly and hospitable but also very dedicated and proud of how
much they've accomplished and how far they've come.
They are also incredibly brave. The bad guys really don't want a strong
Air Force to contend with, and they will stoop to any low to impede that
progress and intimidate those who strive for a better life. Our
advisors have lost friends this summer to senseless violence. It's
always a threat.
And yet, the Afghans continue on. You would all be proud to see it. And I
hope I've helped you see it with my imagery and words. It's not much,
but it's what I could do to help. Because this is a story worth telling,
and it's work worth doing. It's been a privilege and honor to do both. I
returned home recently: proud to be an Airman and looking forward to
that bright future our NATC-A/438th air advisors and Afghans are working
to bring to fruition. Blue skies!