Commander's Veterans Day Message

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere

Airmen of the Mighty Eighth,

On June 1, 1944, two small submarines on a classified mission submerged to a depth of 30 feet just off the coast of Utah beach in France. The two submarines contained five-man crews and their mission was to wait on the coast until D-Day. They were on a one way trip – each man knowing they didn’t have the fuel to return to England. They were lucky to sit off the coast undetected. Each evening they would surface to listen to the BBC 10 o’clock news for a secret code word. One night a code word let them know the mission to invade had been delayed. It was meant to be a short mission. Their oxygen tanks were low and food was short but they took naps and rationed to conserve resources and ensure they could stay as long as needed. Finally, the invasion message was heard. Early the next morning they rose to the surface, shined their beacon out to sea and guided the Allied landing craft past the jagged rocks and up to the beach on D-Day, June 6.   

These two crews, like all of those who stormed the beaches later that morning, were fully prepared to give their lives for their country and many did. In total, 2,500 Americans were killed on that day alone. Many thousands more were wounded or missing in action. Similar to Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon, the “die was cast” that day. Americans volunteered knowing there was no turning back. They were committed to our nation, to our allies, to a constitution and prepared to give everything in that cause. You are no different.  

You, the Airmen of the Mighty Eighth, are part of a rich storied legacy. A pride of warriors ready and willing to give everything for our great nation. From our inception in World War II to our current fight in Operation Inherent Resolve, Airmen of the Mighty Eighth have been delivering decisive blows to the enemy. This is your legacy.

This Friday marks the 63rd anniversary of Veterans Day and while you reflect on the sacrifices of all our veterans, I ask you internalize a sobering statistic. Our country is currently losing an average of 500 World War II veterans each day. It is imperative we not only remember but also recognize, encourage and support the men and women who gave everything in service to their nation. We owe all to these heroes, don’t ever forget.

As you reflect on these great patriots, please also take time to reflect on your own contributions, and those of your family.  Our service is built on Airmen like you, volunteers prepared to give everything, just as they did 72 years ago. As individuals we are strong but together the Mighty Eighth is stronger and serves as a beacon of hope to our nation and the world. Barb and I are honored to serve alongside each and every one of you and are humbled by your tireless service. Keep up the great work, and continue making the “Mighty Eighth” the world’s premier bomber force. Fly high Airmen!

Sincerely,

Maj. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, 8th Air Force commander