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CC Blogs: Memorial Day memories/Happy AMT Day

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- As Memorial Day approaches, I am reminded of the sacrifices of those that came before us.

Recently, I attended an "Honor Flight" event that sends our World War II veterans to Washington D.C. for a day to visit the WW II Memorial, and it made me think about my friend, Sam Shaffer. Sam was a friend of my wife's family in Indiana. I knew Sam for several years before I learned his story because he rarely talked about what he did during the war, but when he did I listened carefully. Sam was a member of the 1st Infantry Division, the "Big Red One", and served as a Company Clerk. His unit landed in Sicily and did some of the hardest fighting in that campaign. As a reward, the "Big Red One" spearheaded the Normandy invasion on Omaha Beach...Sam was there. He also fought in the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, Sam returned home to his small town in Indiana and became the Fire Chief. Sam has since died, and I am glad to have known him.

I'm also reminded of my visit to the beaches at Normandy several years ago. I was fortunate enough to have a guide who knew a lot about the airpower perspective of that campaign. I assure you that airpower was a decisive factor in the Normandy invasion, and I wonder if Sam would have made it were it not for the contributions that airpower made in those critical days. I am certain that the there would have been many more casualties and the outcome may have been far different.

As I reflect on these memories, I am humbled to have had a chance to spend time with our remaining WW II vets and I am honored by their service, as well as the service of all those who have served before me. I consider it a privilege to be part of that heritage, and I hope I can live up to their legacy.

Happy AMT Day

It seems like there is a day to celebrate almost every occasion. We have holidays and special days to celebrate anniversaries and birthdays. We even have days, and sometimes entire months, dedicated to recognizing and celebrating specific events. I was excited to celebrate Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) Day, established in honor of Charles E. Taylor's birthday--May 24, 1868.

When Orville and Wilbur Wright began designing a powered flying machine, they needed an engine. Charles Taylor built that engine, which resulted in the first ever powered flight. He went on to build the first military plane and serve as chief mechanic for the first transcontinental flight. He was even inducted into the USAF Museum Aviation Hall of Fame as the first airplane mechanic. Yet despite his significant contributions as the "The Father of Aircraft Maintenance", Charles E. Taylor's legacy often goes unnoticed.

AMT Day has become a day when we can stop and recognize not only Charles E. Taylor but today's skilled AMTs for their valuable contributions to aircraft maintenance industry-wide. Sometimes the support our AMTs provide can seem overlooked just as Charles Taylor was, but the truth is each of them is vital to our support of the mission. There is a job to be done, and they do it--and do it well.

So with so many other days to celebrate special occasions, I'm glad May 24 is set aside to celebrate our aircraft mechanics. This day belongs to the men and women who carry the heavy responsibility of providing safe and reliable aircraft. It is reserved for recognizing your efforts and the success you ensure for all of us. I'm proud to serve with each and every one of you.