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A Plane, a Pilot, a Passenger and a Note

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 8, 2002 – Flying back to Washington last night after giving a speech in Los Angeles, Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke didn't expect to get a note from the plane's pilot.

"Nice to have you on board," the pilot wrote. "I work at headquarters for the Air Force as the crisis action team duty officer. Just finished duty yesterday as a reservist. I'm working about 15 to 18 days per month for the military, which is keeping me pretty busy, a small price to pay for keeping our way of life secure."

It was signed, "Capt. Rich Lepman from United Airlines. Or, Lt. Col. Rich Lepman from the U.S. Air Force Reserve."

At a Pentagon briefing this morning, Clarke said the note reminded her of the incredible job the National Guard and Reserve are doing in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Noble Eagle, the stateside homeland security effort. She said 79,000 Guard and Reserve members have been activated to date and they are now providing a variety of critical services.

"They are serving in Afghanistan. They are serving in Guantanamo Bay. They are working here at home," Clarke told reporters. "We really appreciate what they do. We appreciate the support they get from their employers and their families, and we just wanted to thank them."

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