Cheney Thanks Fairchild Airmen for Terror War Support
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 18, 2006 Vice President Dick Cheney told servicemembers gathered at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., yesterday they're playing a key role in the global war on terror and that their countrymen believe in them and their mission.
Vice President Dick Cheney addresses a crowd of more than 600 airmen and residents of Spokane, Wash., during an April 17 visit to Fairchild Air Force Base. The vice president pointed out the role Fairchild plays in the war on terrorism and thanked the troops for their contributions and sacrifice. Photo by Staff Sgt. Laura K. Smith, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The vice president visited the home of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing and told a gathering of about 600 airmen and other servicemembers they're helping prevent the spread of terrorism around the world and protecting the United States.
Fairchild's 50 active-duty and eight Air National Guard KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft and their crews support operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and Noble Eagle and other missions around the world.
These refuelers operate largely behind the scenes, keeping other Air Force aircraft in the air and living up to their motto: "Nobody kicks ass without tanker gas," Air Force Maj. Carol Gering, base public affairs officer, told American Forces Press Service
Other major units at Fairchild are the Air National Guard's 141st Air Refueling Wing; the Air Force Survival School; the 36th Rescue Flight; and the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency's Personnel Recovery Academy.
Cheney told these airmen, as well as invited Army, Navy and Marine Corps guests, that they're vital to the global war under way. "The war on terror goes on," he said. "Thanks to you, it's a war we're going to win."
More than 450 Fairchild airmen are deployed to Southwest Asia in support of the terror war, including refuelers, civil engineers, security forces, and survival experts from the SERE School, Gering said.
Cheney told the servicemembers conditions on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan -- not artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington, D.C. -- will determine when the mission is completed. "The only way to lose this fight is to quit, and that is not an option," he told the group.
Terrorist attacks aren't caused by using strength, but rather, by the appearance of weakness, he said. He vowed that the United States will remain strong and see the war through to victory, drawing applause and hoots from the crowd.
"The president and I want you to know how much we appreciate everything you do for the United States," he said. "America believes in you."
Gering called the vice president's speech a welcome message for "Team Fairchild."
"It's nice to be recognized for the role we play in supporting the mission," she said. "Because they perform a support role, our airmen are largely unsung heroes. So it's really great to see them acknowledged and publicly thanked. Because without tankers, the whole rest of the operation (in support of the terror war) couldn't exist."
During the rally, Cheney officiated at the re-enlistment of 18 airmen, soldiers and Marines. Re-enlisting from the 92nd Air Refueling Wing were: Air Force Tech. Sgts. Tami Anderson, Julianna Dumlao and Scott Viers; Staff Sgts. Jeffrey Brod, Jun Codiamat and Vidal Hill; and Senior Airmen John Jones and Jason Murphy.
Also re-enlisting, from the Air Guard's 141st Air Refueling Wing, were Master Sgts. Johnnie Gandolfo and Michael Lyon, and Tech. Sgts. Robert Gibson and Eugene Lewan.
Three Army Reserve soldiers and a Marine Reservist also re-enlisted at the Fairchild rally. They were: Army Master Sgt. Leanne Holsteine, Sgt. 1st Class Susan Beaulaurier and Staff Sgt. Brian Taylor, and Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Joseph Bowman.