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Happy Holidays: Enjoy season, get ready for 2019

Air Force reservists with the 403rd Wing, Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, and C-130J Super Hercules flown by the wing's 815th Airlift Squadron returned from a deployment to Southwest Asia in support of Operations Freedom Sentinel and Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Marnee A.C. Losurdo)

Air Force reservists with the 403rd Wing, Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, and C-130J Super Hercules flown by the wing's 815th Airlift Squadron returned from a deployment to Southwest Asia in support of Operations Freedom Sentinel and Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Marnee A.C. Losurdo)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

It’s that time of year where we reflect and give thanks for the freedoms and blessings we enjoy as an American. You, the Citizen Airmen, civilians, family members and employers of the 403rd Wing contribute to this incredible team that keeps our nation safe.

As I reflect on this year, I am thankful to serve as your commander in what I believe to be the best Wing in the Air Force Reserve Command: the 403rd Wing—the Wing of Choice.

In this past year, the reservists in our wing have accomplished so much. From exercises and training to hurricane support and deployments, the professionalism of this unit never ceases to impress.

This wing has made headlines providing vital weather information for National Hurricane Center forecasts, which helps to ensure public safety. This year has been an active and destructive storm season; a year that kept the Hurricane Hunters, maintenance and support personnel busy supporting operations for several storms to include Lane and Olivia in the Pacific and Florence and Michael in the Atlantic. Many along the Gulf Coast have experienced the aftermath of a destructive storm and understand just how difficult it is to experience and recover from a devastating storm. Let’s keep those who were affected in our thoughts and prayers this holiday season. 

We also want to remember our wing members who will be deployed this holiday season supporting operations around the world. Members of our wing have been supporting deployed operations since January. We sent 150 Reserve Citizen Airmen and several C-130J Super Hercules aircraft to Southwest Asia in support of Operations Freedom’s Sentinel and Inherent Resolve providing airlift, airdrop and aeromedical evacuation capability to operations throughout the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility. I was fortunate to be deployed with the Flying Jennies and watch our amazing Airmen make Air Force history in May. I was on the mission with the 815th AS, which was part of the 746th Air Expeditionary Squadron at Al Udeid Air Base Qatar. We participated in a two-ship formation airdrop with the 774th EAS, an active duty squadron at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, providing supplies to a Resolute Support Expeditionary Advisory Package in Afghanistan. This was the first time two separate units in two countries came together for a single combat airdrop mission. It was an amazing experience.

In addition to setting records, wing members have worked hard all year participating in exercises such as Patriot Warrior and training events to ensure we are ready for the fight when called upon. Next year will be just as busy as we have a full schedule of training events and will be ready for whatever else 2019 throws our way.

I encourage you to take time to relax with your family and friends, stay safe and take care of each other this holiday season. To give you more time with your loved ones, the Wing will not have a December Unit Training Assembly, but we look forward to seeing you in the New Year. For those who want to celebrate the New Year with us, the Wing is having a free Masquerade Party Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. at the Bay Breeze Event Center. Please join us. Many thanks to you and your family for your service and dedication, and have a very happy holidays and wonderful New Year.