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Give a 'shout out' to the willing unknowns

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- As Air Expeditionary Force 5/6 draws to a close, I find it necessary to give a big "Shout Out" to the "Willing Unknowns." Noted minister and author, Chuck Swindoll, refers to the people who do the small things that make the greater whole successful as the willing unknowns. Most of these people don't get recognized, don't win awards, don't get their picture in the paper -- and that is perfectly fine for them. Yet, day after day, they come to work with a great attitude, professional demeanor, and an unyielding and selfless reverence for the team's needs. 

There are many willing unknowns here at the 379th AEW and they all deserve credit for a job well done. However, I would like to highlight three distinctive groups that make a difference each and every day by sacrificing physically and mentally for the war on terror. 

I suspect everyone will have their own set of willing unknowns, but for me, the escort flight of civil engineering, the defenders in security forces, and the single parent warriors of the wing have all influenced me personally or my squadron during this AEF. 

Each day as I travel around the various construction zones on the base I am greeted by several escorts who make progress possible. These escorts are responsible of course for ensuring our third country national contractors, who literally pave the future here at the base, do so in a manner necessary to ensure our personal safety and the safety of our infrastructure. One only has to look to recent regional events to assess just how critical the escort function is to our safety. We should all be extremely grateful for the escorts who permit us to conduct our daily core tasks while they enable construction and critical service related tasks continue unabated. The escorts -- willing unknowns. 

The Defenders in security forces, another willing unknown, are the most critical layer of our defense against those who would prefer we not be here doing our nation's business. They guard the miles of perimeter, ensure a rigorous security check point is in place for contractors, aircraft parts, and a sundry of other critical supplies. Every day the defenders stand in the heat, blowing sand, and fight the flies to ensure we all can do our job without fear of altercation -- and in the event something happens, I have no doubt they will render any aggressor helpless. Thank you defenders -- willing unknowns. 

While the escort flight and security forces are high on the list, I have been so impressed with our single parent warriors. I have been fortunate enough to come in contact with several single parents who have had to take their kids out of school, and in many cases, move their children across the United States to stay with grandparents, friends, brothers or sisters so they could deploy. Most of us would never know, unless we asked, that these warriors have made these sacrifices to do their part in this war. Usually I hear, "I'm obligated" or "it is a privilege," or "I don't want to let my coworkers down" when I ask why they make this kind of sacrifice. I'm married and have two kids and it is tough to be away. 

I can't imagine being a single parent here. Single parents -- the willing unknowns.
So please join me in giving a big, big "Shout Out" to the escorts, defenders, single parent warriors and all the other willing unknowns. Thank you, so much, for making AEF 5/6 a huge success. Your contributions have made a huge difference.