Saturday, I was flying back from Reston. On my leg from O'Hare to Oklahoma City, I ran into some Airmen coming back from a deployment. As we talked, I realized they were stationed at Tinker.
I told the Airman that I remember when my unit was the only unit on Tinker wearing Camos. He told me I must have been in the 3rd Herd. We talked some about unit history. How the original patch was an Owl and the motto was "World Wise Communications". I also told him about the transition to the War Frog under Col. Lurie and the transition to the 3rd Herd under Col. Witt.
On my building there used to be a sign painted on the roof:
Дом третьей группы борьбе связь
It means "Home of the 3rd Combat Communications Group. Always Prepared" in Russian. Col. Lurie was a bit hard core but it motivated us to be ready at all times.
In the 80's - when I was stationed at Tinker - I was assigned to the 3rd Combat Communications Group. From an Air Force perspective, it wasn't considered a "choice" assignment but I wanted it anyway. Originally, out of Tech School, I had an assignment to Clark AB, Phillipines. I swapped assignments to get to Tinker.
I spent 6 1/2 years at the 3rd. 65 Tactical Air Base expercises. 35 Real world and JCS exercise deployments. 2 ORIs. Over 2 years in a tent. I earned my Combat Readiness Medal.
Combat Comm can be hard duty. Field conditions alot of times. You deploy on a moments notice anywhere in the world and you had to stay ready. My deployment bag stayed packed. And I had uniforms for jungle, desert, arctic, and chemical warefare that I maintained at all times. You don't know when and how long you'll be gone.
Our equipment had to be ready to rock at all times as well. It was amazing how fast and how much equipment we moved when it become time to "Rock and Roll".
What you do learn in a Unit like the 3rd:
- How to face difficult conditions and work through challenges
- Ability to survive and operate
- Mental and physical preparedness
- Adapting to the Mission
- Urgency of need
- Perserverance, persistence, and focus.
- Never settle for anything less than your best.
- Strength of Character
Many colleges have classes and discussions about these things but in the 3rd, you lived it. You were immersed in it.
In garrison, you trained and prepared. On deployment, you delivered.
I can't help but to thank alot of the folks I worked with and for. Col. Lurie. MSgt Olival. MSgt Reinhardt. CMSgt Kremer. Capt. Kovacs. 1LT Faughn. TSgt Tommy Brown. SSgt Jeff Brock. SSgt Tim Palmer. Sgt. Elmer Shipman. SSGt Nyberg. SSgt Roy David. A1C David Cubit. A1C Vince Simmons. A1C Rod Pitts. SSgt Darren Newell. The list goes on and on. We worked together. Prepared and helped each other.
The Airman I was talking to represented the United States of America, the Air Force, my old Unit, and those stripes very well. He is a testament to the dedication to duty, service, and country. And this got me to thinking. I'm am a shadow Warrior from the Air Force's finest Combat Communications Group. Behind Airman Whittington and his team are thousands of us Shadow Warriors (those that have served before him) who pray for those that are actively serving. And we all hope and pray that the things we did while we were Active Duty helped in some small way, the ability of those that serve now to do better than we did.
So - to Airman Whittington and Team. Thank you for what you do. Thank you for representing well. God Bless ya'll! Welcome home!
And to Airman Whittington personally - Congratulations on your upcoming promotion. Nice talking with you, Sir!