Crossing into the blue

  • Published
  • By Col. Roger S. Goetz
  • 72nd Medical Group Commander
I'm not certain when my blood actually turned Air Force blue.
   Every chance I get, I tell our staff and anyone who will listen that we serve in the world's greatest Air Force, defending the freedom of our nation and those who have not yet experienced the many blessings we all take for granted.
   I have had the honor to serve around the world including a deployment to Kirkuk, Iraq, and I can honestly say that our Airmen are indeed the finest professionals with which one can serve.
   It is unfortunate that many of our citizens do not appreciate their freedom and many blessings we have been given through the sacrifice of the many patriots that have gone on before us. It is not that these are bad people, they just have not had the opportunity to see what the rest of the world lives like, or had the exhilarating experience of coming home to their families after a deployment and wanting to kiss the ground as they get off the plane in the United States.
   I believe it is up to you and me to tell the story of what we and our fellow Airmen are doing here and in far away places.
   Unlike World War II, not everyone is affected by loved ones going to war or having to ration limited items that we take for granted on a day to day basis.
   As I write this article, there are 20 members of the 72nd Medical Group deployed around the globe, some in harm's way, with loved ones here waiting for their safe return.
   For the families of the deployees, it is some of the hardest emotional times in their lives. We do our best to support them, but they are sacrificing just as their deployed loved ones.
   As I left a conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this year, a group of Army Soldiers were coming up the metro escalator and some outspoken citizen yelled at them to, "Tell your boss to get us out of Iraq!"
   My first reaction was to yell back at the citizen and tell him that he wasn't in Iraq, we were and we're proud of what we are doing -- but my military bearing got the best of me and I said nothing.
   As I traveled on the metro to the Ronald Reagan Airport, I got madder.
   I justified the citizen's remark by saying at least in this country he can freely express his opinion. On the final leg of my journey, from Dallas to Oklahoma City, I made my way to the rear of the plane and sat down next to some fellow Airmen in their desert combat uniforms returning from war.
   As I was settling in, I noticed a well-dressed business man making his way from the first class section to the rear of the plane carrying his boarding pass. He came up to the first Airman he saw and said, "Here Airman, take my seat in first class, and thank you for what you do."
   Needless to say, I believe someone was telling me that as much as there may be people who do not appreciate their freedom and those that defend it, there are as many, if not more, who do.
   I am truly proud to serve in the world's greatest Air Force, with the greatest Airmen in defense of this great nation. I hope that our Airmen, who have served and serve today, will join me in telling those we meet that we are proud to serve their country in the world's greatest Air Force.
   I am an American Airman!