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View from the Top: Thank you for your efforts

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AETCNS) -- I can not tell you how proud I am of everyone in Air Education and Training Command for your outstanding support of national recovery efforts after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast Region. Thank you.

Your hard work and generosity continue to make a significant difference. It is wonderful to know that when a crisis or disaster happens, the "First Command" is ready and willing to lean forward to help wherever needed.

Everyone stepped up to the challenge. More than 500 AETC members deployed to support the stateside humanitarian efforts, with thousands more volunteering their services at their base. Sixty-six people are still deployed to various locations and willing to stay as long as it takes.

Throughout the command men, women and children volunteered to help others in their time of need. Whether it was providing food, water and other supplies, or sending equipment and people to assist with recovery efforts, you did an exceptional job.

My hat goes off to everyone at Keesler AFB, Miss., and detached units who endured the wrath of Hurricane Katrina. Many experienced significant property losses. With damage to Keesler property estimated at $800 million, you have experienced losses most of us will never know.

Not only did you experience the wrath of the storm, but you went from being "victims" to being volunteers. Hundreds of Keesler residents, including trainees, worked countless hours getting the base back to normalcy and helping the surrounding communities recover.

Keesler has so many wonderful stories -- from a baby delivered by Caesarean section, using flashlights for illumination, to a wedding held outside one of the shelters just days after Hurricane Katrina hit. There are countless other stories of the human spirit overcoming tragedy.

Every AETC base participated in helping those in need, and some are still assisting recovery efforts.

Our air lift at Altus AFB, Okla., and Little Rock AFB, Ark., transported almost 1.7 million pounds of humanitarian aid, as well as equipment and people to support recovery efforts. Little Rock was also selected to be the hub for international aid and coordinated the logistics for nearly 4 million pounds of humanitarian aid from countries around the globe.

We set up the Federal Emergency Management Agency at Maxwell AFB, Ala., as the distribution point for supplies and equipment being sent to areas affected by the hurricanes.

Lackland AFB partnered with the city of San Antonio to shelter and care for more than 10,000 people displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. These efforts included helping off-load passengers airlifted to the base, providing medical assistance, and transporting displaced persons to shelters and hospitals around the city.

Several other AETC bases housed those displaced by the hurricane. Many of our folks even opened their homes to those in need. Others left their homes and families to go where their skills were needed.

In appreciation for your hard work, I have designated Nov. 14 as a command down day.

We are truly blessed in AETC to have such highly motivated, talented and dedicated warriors who make it happen every day.

I could not be more proud of the people in this great command. Thank you and keep up the great work.
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