Thanksgiving Letter to Parents of Airmen

Presidio of Monterey, Calif. -- Dear Mr. and Mrs. Bailey,

As Thanksgiving approaches, I want to take the opportunity to thank you. You see, I command 650 Airmen in the 314th Training Squadron at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, Presidio of Monterey, California. Your son Airman Beetle Bailey has recently joined my unit in order to learn Persian Farsi, a language spoken in South Asia. Farsi is a very difficult language; therefore, Airman Bailey will spend about a year at DLI studying this language seven hours a day in the classroom and completing 2-3 hours of homework each night. Having completed the Farsi course, he will then receive four months of instruction in Persian Dari, a similar language and one of several spoken in Afghanistan. After a year and a half at DLI, your son will go to Goodfellow AFB, Texas, for four more months of training to learn how to use his language in the execution of military operations. Because Airman Bailey is an airborne linguist, he has already spent a month at Lackland AFB, Texas, at the Airborne Fundamentals Course following two and a half months of Basic Military Training. Additionally, he will spend a month at Fairchild AFB, Washington, learning survival skills before beginning another six month course at Offut AFB, Nebraska, learning how to operate equipment on an aircraft...his future "office." That's right: it takes about two and a half years of training to transform a new Airman into a warrior-linguist. In fact, the linguist training pipeline is the longest and most expensive in the Air Force.

So again, let me thank you. Thank you for supporting your son's decision to enlist in the Air Force during a time of war. It takes a lot of courage to join the military, especially during a time of war. Let me assure you that your son is in good hands. First, as commander, I take personal responsibility for the well-being of your son. I will ensure that he gets fully integrated into the Air Force, undergoes world-class training, and receives every kind of support to develop and succeed as an Airman. Second, our noncommissioned officer corps is the best in the world. The professionalism and expertise of our NCOs clearly sets the United States military apart from those of other nations. My NCOs will carefully lead, train and mentor your son; it is their duty to grow Airman Bailey into an NCO. Their standards are high, and their methods are proven. Third, your son is now part of the Air Force family. We take care of our own. I am thankful to be part of such a family.

Thank you for raising your son to achieve such high standards of intellectual capability, physical fitness, moral judgment and personal discipline. Indeed, only 25 percent of Americans age 18 to 24 even qualify to join the Air Force. Your son is in this elite group and is surrounded by others of similarly superb character. Every Airman at the Presidio and Goodfellow AFB lives by the same high ethos. It is embodied in our core values--Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do--and described in our Airman's Creed. His fellow Airmen will be your son's friends, leaders, mentors and wingmen. They will share his triumphs and troubles. They will never leave Airman Bailey behind. I am thankful for the amazing character of these Airmen with whom I serve.

Thank you for encouraging your son to use his talents in the service of others. For however long Airman Bailey stays in the Air Force, his contributions to our nation will be great. Every Airman is critical to the completion of our mission and ultimately, to the security of our nation and its values. To that end, every member of the 17th Training Wing is committed to ensuring the success of Airman Bailey. Your son will experience the world's absolute finest training during his combined time at the Presidio and Goodfellow AFB. Every Airman in this wing takes great pride in pursuing and achieving excellence. Like your son, they have all dedicated themselves to the selfless service of others. I am thankful for the sense of duty and tireless efforts of every 17 TRW warrior.

I greatly appreciate the sacrifices you made in raising your son and the trust you have now placed in us to lead and care for him. We will never falter, and we will not fail. Happy Thanksgiving!

Gratefully,
JONATHAN C. RICE, IV, Lt. Col., USAF
Commander, 314 TRS