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Commander's holiday message

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Team Whiteman,

I want to wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season. This is a very special time of the year and I hope you are able to enjoy it while you rest and recharge from what has been an exciting and highly successful year.

Since I arrived in June, our Total Force team has been going full throttle and, as always, the Airmen of the 509th and 131st Bomb Wings have been knocking our mission out of the park.

For example, this summer we completed a bomber assurance and deterrence deployment to the EUCOM area of operations. During this high-vis deployment, two of our B-2s joined B-1s and B-52s at RAF Fairford, England, to conduct operations with our allies and to demonstrate our commitment to NATO. In July, we returned to England to conduct a flyover at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) alongside two F-15s to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the United States Air Force.

In the fall, our Total Force team once again proved that we are prepared to shoulder the responsibility for the most powerful weapons in our nation's arsenal during a Nuclear Surety Inspection. Our mission is the Air Force’s number one priority and we clearly demonstrated that we’re ready to safely execute that mission anytime, anywhere. The inspectors were not only impressed by our safe, secure, and reliable operations, but also by the way you proudly and professionally represented Team Whiteman under challenging conditions.

Also in the fall, we executed a long-duration mission to the PACOM area of responsibility. Missions like this validate our always-ready global strike capability and are a visible demonstration of commitment to our allies that enhances regional security. On top of that, we crushed Exercise GLOBAL THUNDER the following week. As part of the exercise, we generated numerous B-2 sorties in support of USSTRATCOM’s nuclear mission and it was incredible for me to watch our entire team in action.

Our mission partners have been just as busy in 2017. The 20th Attack Squadron, which is flying combat operations 24/7/365, transitioned from flying the MQ-1 Predator to the MQ-9 Reaper without taking a single day off from combat – that’s a remarkable feat. The 1-135th Assault Helicopter Battalion deployed to the Virgin Islands in support of hurricane relief efforts and performed life-saving work following the devastating storm. The 442d Fighter Wing has been training and is fully-prepared to take the fight to our enemies in the lead up to a crucial combat deployment.

Clearly, we have been busy -- but we have been busy for good reason. Because of your service and the sacrifices our families make, America remains strong and free.

We have asked a lot of you and your families this year, but I am going to ask for two favors as 2017 comes to a close. First, the holidays can be difficult for some, so lend a hand or an ear to anyone in need. Second, take a moment to remember our teammates who are deployed and the loved ones they left behind. Their sacrifice is the reason we are able to gather this holiday season and celebrate with our family, friends and Wingmen.

I am proud to serve as your Commander and I look forward to an amazing 2018.

-v/r
JJN

JOHN J. NICHOLS, Brig Gen, USAF
Commander, 509th Bomb Wing