Today, we celebrate Veterans Day to honor and remember those who have served and continue to serve in our Armed Forces.
Whether you wear the military uniform today or wore the uniform decades ago, you represent one of more than 34 million stories of devotion to country through military service since World War II.
Veterans Day is a reminder that we need to say thank you to the patriots of the past who secured our democracy today and pass these stories to the next generation of heroes.
After leaving the military, many veterans continue writing their story of service as teachers, police ofﬁcers, ﬁreﬁghters or civil servants. Retired Master Sgt. Joe Rowan is one of those stories. Rowan entered the Air Force in 1942 as an aircraft maintainer working on the B-24 Liberator and retired as a member of the 349th Air Mobility Wing in 1986.
Rowan has since served as a Travis volunteer and is currently the director of the retired activities ofﬁce at David Grant Medical Center. His service to the Air Force began during World War II and spans an astounding 70-year period. His story is a testament to the enduring contribution that one individual can make as we continue to write the story of our military history.
Although operations, uniforms, aircraft and missions have changed since Rowan answered the call in 1942, veterans share a common bond: devotion to service. During the past two weeks, young men and women in uniform answered the call to provide much-needed help to victims of Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast. This ongoing relief effort includes maintainers who prepared four C-17 Globemaster IIIs and ﬁ ve C-5 Galaxies for short-notice taskings, operators who launched off of alert status to deliver 621st Contingency Response Wing Contingency Response Elements to the effort and aerial port personnel who loaded more than 850,000 pounds of cargo.
The cargo included power-line repair trucks from California and Nevada, Coast Guard water pumps and more than 9,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency blankets for displaced families.
The individual contributions are too numerous to mention and this has clearly been a total-force effort. In a dire moment for our country, Travis extended a hand of hope and expressed a devotion to service that has passed through generations of military service members.
On Veterans Day, I ask that you take the time to thank heroes such as Rowan for their devoted service. If you have a parent, grandparent, sibling, friend or neighbor who served in the military, reach out to show your appreciation for their sacrifice. It will mean the world to them.
I’d like to be the ﬁrst to say thanks to you and your family for your devoted service.
Col. Dwight Sones is the base commander at Travis Air Force Base and commander of the 60th Air Mobility Wing.