“Your son Sergeant Roy T. Mitchell was killed in action in the Verdun Muse, offensive September 27, 1918, by an enemy shell. In expression of my sympathy to you and to other bereaved relatives and friends, I voice the sentiments of every man from Franklin in the A.E.F. and particularly those who know him best … accept my profoundest sympathy, and be of good cheer, for behind the cloud the sun still shines, and the great loss you are now called upon to bear will have its reward along with countless thousands of similar ones, that fate decreed was necessary in the prosecution of this great war, in the interest of all humanity.”
J. Bradie Ullman
It was only in the past year I learned that a distant relative of mine served and was killed in WW I. Roy Mitchell grew up in the same area of southern Virginia as me, and I hope one day to visit his grave, along with Lt. Frank Luke, at the Meuse Argonne cemetery in France. Until I am able to make that trip, I am compelled to reflect on not only the very few who currently serve, but the responsibility we bear.
Today, approximately 1 percent of 311 million Americans serve in our all-volunteer military compared to 9 percent of all Americans in World War II. A report by “Mission: Readiness, Military Leader for Kids,” states that only 25 percent of Americans ages 18 to 25 are eligible for military service, primarily due to obesity.
By serving the citizens of the United States of America you are truly in the top 1 percent. You have volunteered to serve and sacrifice your life for the citizens of our country.
Freedom in the future is not guaranteed, and while we may be the world’s best air, space and cyber force, it is only you and future Airmen that will ensure our continued success.
As you put on your uniform each day, remember your daily actions and future actions are responsible for the freedoms that millions of Americans enjoy. The opportunities afforded to citizens you will never meet are due to you and your service to our country. The only constant is change and while decreased budgets loom on the horizon it is up to you to carry on the legacy, grow the next generation and defend freedom.
Whether you make the Air Force a career or serve for a single assignment, your service at Luke Air Force Base is critical to our country.
Almost 100 years ago, a distant relative of mine died defending these freedoms and his mother received a letter titled “Somewhere in France.” I think of his sacrifice often and you are forever linked to these stories of sacrifice and service for our country. To all Thunderbolts and beyond, exude pride in your service to our country and pride in your service as Airmen.