"Iron" Orr bids Thunderbolts farewell

  • Published
  • By Col David Orr
  • 56th Fighter Wing vice commander
Thunderbolts -- thanks for providing this not-so-young-guy the most fulfilling professional experience of my Air Force career! Your example of excellence not only secures a thriving 56th Fighter Wing mission today, but it ensures the United States of America will continue to lead the way to secure our liberties on the frontlines of freedom. 

It's a challenge to say goodbye in 500 words, so please accept a quick "Why I Made the Air Force a Career" as a means to tie together my admiration for the mission and people of the 56th FW. 

The Distinction of Being a Member of the Greatest Armed Service in the History of Civilization
In a short 60-year period and exemplified in the last 16 years of combat operations, today you are a key player in an Air Force in which our enemies won't even take the 'playing field' against us. Our combat soldiers, sailors, marines and Airmen on the battlefield know that any sounds they hear overhead will be the United States Air Force or one of our coalition partners. At the same time, our enemies immediately scatter for cover because they know it's an F-16 Fighting Falcon spreading the sound of freedom and deterring their terrorist acts. 

Professionals with High Moral values Sharing a Rich Air Force Heritage
Brig. Gen. Tom Jones and I grow professionally each day observing the quality of our Airmen; from the sharp young Airman fresh out of basic military training, to our Air Force civilians who continue to serve with conviction and distinction, to each unit's leadership triumvirate (commander, chief and first sergeant) who ensure that the 56th FW mission is optimized while caring for the needs and fulfillment of each Thunderbolt. 

As an Air Force 'lifer,' I also know that my family is better off in living among fellow Air Force families. My kids are better Americans in growing up with other Air Force kids. Because of the high moral character, sense of patriotism and standard of excellence taught from our Thunderbolts to our kids, they grow up right. 

There is also no other organization outside the military that recognizes their legacy. We carry our heritage of heroism and distinguished service to the present. It's the great gift we inherited from our past. 

We recognize our people in promotions and awards like no other organization. We provide professional education opportunities like no other, and we offer exceptional services in our club events, professional organizations and intramural sports that are uniquely the U.S. Air Force. 

The Honor to Make a Difference
Our sacrifice and service today is going to make history in stemming the threat of terrorism, sustaining a democratic Iraq and finally setting the conditions for a stable Middle East. You are personally making a difference in training the world's greatest fighter pilots and maintainers, while deploying combat warfighters. The 56th FW trained pilots and maintainers are saving lives and thwarting terrorism every day and our deployed Thunderbolts from more than 40 specialties are serving with incredible distinction. Every Thunderbolt contributes, and you never know when your individual actions will make the difference between mission success and catastrophe! 

Always be proud to say that you serve in the vocation of preserving our nation's freedom and know that you are making a difference for your family, community and nation today and for follow-on generations! 

I salute each of you! Remember, "In this world of give and take, there are not enough willing to give what it takes." Thanks so much for setting the example for our nation in 'giving what it takes!"