• Published
  • By Col. Lansen Conley
  • 82nd Training Wing vice commander
Two hundred and thirty one years ago, 56 men signed our Declaration of Independence with a solemn pledge in the last line: "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." These men set the course of history to establish the world's greatest democracy promising everyone life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Then they pledged their lives, fortunes and honor to the cause of the fledgling democracy known as the United States of America. Theirs was an incredible concept - liberty and justice for all - that led to our incredibly blessed nation. 

Sixty years ago, the United States Air Force became a separate service within the Department of Defense after forty years as a branch of the U.S. Army. Incredibly, our civilian and military leaders of the time recognized that in just 44 years since the Wright brothers' first airplane flight, airpower added a dynamic third dimension to warfare after centuries of two-dimensional warfare on land and sea. 

Thirty years ago I flew in an airplane for the first time in my life as I went to the Air Force Academy. Unlike the 56 signatories of the Declaration of Independence, I didn't make any lofty pledges. After being accepted to the Academy, I told my parents I didn't want to go after all. My mother told me I needed to go and at least give it a try. So my pledge was simply that I would give the Academy a try. But in my wisdom of eighteen years, I was sure "my try" wouldn't last long. But by the grace of God, my try is still going on and has been incredible. In fact, I haven't decided yet but I just might make a career out of it!
Six years ago, we became embroiled in the Global War on Terror. It has been an incredible struggle against those who, in contrast to the 56 signatories of the Declaration of Independence, want to deny freedom and liberty. Our Airmen of all ranks and AFSCs have prosecuted the fight with vigor and courage. Unlike sixty years ago, we are seeing the rise of a new warrior class within the Air Force as our support Airmen pick up in-lieu-of taskings for the Army and Marines. All our Airmen are performing extremely well. 

Two years ago, I had the privilege of coming here to serve you as the Vice Commander of the 82nd Training Wing. I am amazed by our new Airmen who answered the call to defend our great country. I am amazed by all our military, civilians and contractors who deliver technically superior, highly motivated warrior Airmen day in and day out without fail. I am amazed by our community partners in Wichita Falls, Burkburnett and Iowa Falls who genuinely love what we do and what we stand for. You are all incredible! 

In two weeks, I will deploy for a year to Afghanistan for what promises to be an incredible experience. I will miss my family, this great base and this community. However, I leave confident my family will be well cared for and that I am well trained and equipped for the mission ahead. I ask you to welcome and give the same support to Col. Kris "Beaz" Beasley, the new 82nd TRW Vice Commander, as you did me. Lord willing, I will see you next year right here where combat capability starts!