Good morning, I'm Capt R, but I go by Puff. I would like to start by saying how honored I am to be able to speak to you today. When the Public Affairs shop said they were looking for volunteers to speak they were so overwhelmed that they had to turn people away so I feel lucky I got picked.
The PA shop sent out a 5 page speech for us to use today but I found it overly formal and impersonal. They wanted me to emphasize the Air Force's role in current war-fighting which I don't find relevant to Memorial Day. I don't think their speech adequately expressed how I feel about this holiday. When I talked to Mr. Cheatley I asked him what he'd like me to speak about he offered a few suggestions which I think I can better work with than informal PA stuff.
So who am I? Like you I am a warrior fighting for peace. I'm Puff and I work as an electronic warfare officer (EWO) on the B-52 Stratofortress. My days consist of either scheduling and executing the wing's flying schedule or flying as a part of it. While awaiting training I worked as a Mobility Officer for the 61st Airlift Sq in Little Rock, AR. I've been stationed in 5 states, deployed once to Guam, dropped munitions on 4 countries, and have been a proud member of the Air Force for 5 years. I'm the first person in my family to have joined the military since WWII. I've wanted to serve my country since middle school and have worked hard to get where I am today. I've never regretted any of the work I've done to get here because I believe serving my nation is one of the highest callings an American can answer.
I think I represent the next generation of war fighter. Children who grew up with video games and the internet are now employing some of the most advanced weaponry in the world. We've come a long way from Continental soldiers facing off against the British Army but one thing remains true: American men and women love their country so much that they are willing to lay down their life to its defense. In the words of President James Garfield: "for love of country, they accepted death."
I think of this holiday as both sad and joyful. Sad in that we tearfully remember the people we know who've died in service but joyful for the freedoms we can continue to enjoy: Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom of assembly. I find this year's Memorial Day particularly painful. On July 20th, 2008 the B-52 community lost its first aircraft in almost 15 years. This was a crash that killed everyone aboard including a classmate of mine from Barksdale as well as a friend who I'd been training and working with since the beginning of my Air Force career. The 6 men on board were honorable Americans: family men, fighting men, whose job was not just to fight our nation's wars but to deter and dissuade foreign leaders from starting more.