Posted on :
By Air Force Capt. Mary Danner-Jones and Air Force Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 31, 2010 - Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley thanked airmen for their service during holiday visits to bases in Wyoming and North Dakota. He praised the troops' commitment, skill and achievements while visiting F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., on Dec. 23 and Minot Air Force Base, N.D., on Dec. 23 and 24.
While visiting F.E. Warren, Donley recognized Air Force Global Strike Command airmen who carry out the nuclear deterrence mission.
"We have missile crews and Airmen standing alert over the holidays, and we want them to know their leaders appreciate the sacrifices they make," Donley said.
"We appreciate our Airmen and their families for the support they provide every day of the year, but especially during the holiday period when some of our Airmen can't be with their families," he said.
Capt. Mike Ralph, 319th Missile Squadron flight commander, was one of those on hand to meet the secretary.
"A visit such as this shows how much our senior leadership cares about the nuclear mission and our Airmen here," Ralph said. "It means a lot that Secretary Donley took time out of his busy schedule to come here."
During his visit, the secretary met with 20th Air Force and 90th Missile Wing maintainers, operators, security forces, support personnel, and leaders to express his appreciation for the dedication and professionalism of everyone who supports the mission here.
Donley said the great performance of the 90th Missile Wing during the first Global Strike Challenge in November was reflective of the training, precision, dedication and professionalism of F.E. Warren airmen.
"This was a major accomplishment for the 'Mighty Ninety,'" he said. "Awards in several different areas really indicate you have some stand-out units and performers here."
Those honors included the Blanchard Trophy recognizing the best ICBM wing, as well as three other top Global Strike Challenge awards.
Secretary Donley said the work performed by Warren professionals is "critical" and "truly remarkable," adding that the mission across the nuclear enterprise is nonstop.
Acknowledging the Air Force's 50-plus years of nuclear heritage, he added that nuclear deterrence remains the backbone not only of the Air Force, but also of national military capabilities.
This is the second year in a row an Air Force senior leader has traveled to F.E. Warren during the holiday season. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, the Air Force's top uniformed leader, made a holiday visit here last year.
During his trip to Minot, Secretary Donley visited several of the base's key facilities, including a missile alert facility, Dock 7, and the Dakota Inn Dining Facility. He also met with several key community leaders during a dinner meeting in the city of Minot.
"The airmen here are doing an outstanding job," Donley said. "Minot carries a heavy load and is always very busy, but I feel the airmen and leadership team here are very supportive of each other and key to accomplishing the Air Force mission."
Donley said what impressed him the most was the dedication and professionalism of all who served at the base, particularly given the challenging mission and weather climate.
"Minot has a very important mission of two dimensions -- bombers and missiles," Donley said. "This two-dimensional mission can be complicated to support. It is complicated even more by the harsh environment our Airmen face here."
Donley noted the support of family and community is important to Airmen being able to accomplish the nuclear deterrence and global strike mission.
"Our Air Force is hardworking -- 24/7 for 365 days a year," he said. "We can't do what we do, as efficiently and productively, without the support of our families and the communities we live in."
As such, the secretary said Minot bears a great responsibility and expressed his appreciation for Team Minot's performance.
"This community serves a very important mission and Minot is doing an outstanding job," he said. "I would like to say thank you for your integrity and commitment to service."
(Air Force Capt. Mary Danner-Jones is assigned to the 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs Office, and Air Force Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton is assigned to the Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs Office.)
Michael B. Donley
F.E. Warren Air Force Base
Minot Air Force Base