03 August 2018


By Andy Weddington
Friday, 03 August 2018

Americans never quit. Douglas MacArthur

Just when I've had enough of the clueless boobs on the tube and elsewhere, attacking our President and ridiculing most everything going right in America, a morning like today comes along.

A breath of fresh air. 

A reminder of what's important.  

From a nice front row seat in an enormous airplane hanger I witnessed the change of command ceremony for the 55th Maintenance Group. 

Seated to my starboard was the mayor of a neighboring town of just over 6,500. Guessing about 10 years my senior, he said he was Nebraska born and raised on a farm and now lives less than 10 miles from his roots. He quipped to his worldly travels. 

Without prompting he spoke to the importance of this Air Force base to our country, Nebraska, and the local community.

He offered heartfelt words about those who volunteer to wear a uniform and quietly go about their business with most of America oblivious to the protective umbrella safeguarding them. 

Amen to that, Mr. Mayor.

He mentioned playing 8-man football, having daily (including weekend) farm chores growing up, and a high school graduating class of 29. He married a girl from a nearby small town. 

A career salesman, he confessed to loving people and doing what he can each day to make someone's life a bit better. His words sincere and struck a chord with me so I mentioned my late father-in-law was also a mayor of a small town - he loved the town and the people and tried to his best to do right by them. 

He loves being mayor. As to the pay, well, $4,000.00 a year for the part-time job. Laughing, he figured it works out to about a dollar per phone call. 

Anyway, in short order I figured this guy out - guilty of being a patriot. 

And then the narrator interrupted our small talk to open the ceremony. 

Glancing through the program I noted the three officers, all colonels, of the official party were commissioned through the Air Force ROTC program - University of Missouri, Louisiana State University, and Virginia Military Institute. 

Once an instructor for a (Naval) ROTC program, I feel it important to highlight the superb leaders this program contributes to our force; branch of service notwithstanding. 

The 55th Maintenance Group supports nearly three dozen aircraft that fly global missions - reconnaissance, intelligence and surveillance, Airborne Command Post, and National Airborne Operations Center missions - in support of all combatant commanders. Busy is an understatement. 

The outgoing commander, a neighbor these past 18 months, offered the usual remarks about duties, family, etc., and then he turned his attention (which caught my attention) to a small representative formation of airmen of the Group. 

He said ...

"When I reported for duty as your commanding officer I wondered who are these people who call themselves the 'World's Greatest Maintainers'? For two years now I have been privileged to witness mountains moved and magic worked - daily. Are you the 'World's Greatest Maintainers'? Damn right you are!"

He was decorated. 

A new commander was welcomed. He grasped the Group colors assuming command and spoke, briefly; appropriately. 

And that was that. 

The business of the 55th Maintenance Group carries on business as usual. 

And most Americans carry on none the wiser. 

This afternoon that outgoing commander, that colonel - neighbor and friend, retires completing 30 years of faithful and selfless service. I'll be there. 

In closing ...

"Are you privileged to have such men, and women, in your service? Are you fortunate to live in these great United States of America?

Damn right you are!"

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