Gen. Anderson at the Travis Air Force Base in California, 1967
This week, as families across America prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, I am reminded of all the men and women in uniform who are serving our great nation in foreign lands, especially those in “harm’s way” serving in Afghanistan.
As we make final preparation to have a wonderful Thanksgiving, shopping on Black Friday, and starting the final run to Christmas, it is important for us to remember and give thanks to all those making great sacrifices who will not be able to celebrate this holiday season with their families.
This can be a very lonely time for those serving overseas. I am a Vietnam veteran, and retired before the current long war, but I remember the loneliness I felt as a young Airmen First Class (three stripes), and being separated from my family for the first time.
I was newly married and my first child was born while I was overseas. I was in the 405th Fighter Wing, Clark AFB, Philippines, which had detachments in Vietnam and Thailand. I still remember waiting for mail calls and hoping that I received pictures. I will never forget the first pictures I received of my wife and daughter together.
This is the time of year when goodie boxes from home are very important. While things have changed relative to the speed and modes of communication today, with e-mail and social media – Twitter, Facebook – I am convinced that the loneliness remains the same. These young men and women are not only dealing with the stress of combat, but they are also dealing with the human dynamics of family separation.
We are all blessed to live in this great land of freedom and liberty where young men and women have always been willing to sacrifice and serve. So, as we celebrate this Thanksgiving, I encourage all of us to reflect and think about those Americans who are separated from their families. Please take time to remember and express our appreciation in our own way for those who continue to serve and sacrifice.
Brigadier General (Ret) Frank Anderson Senior Advisor
Gen. Anderson previously served as Commandant of the Defense Systems Management College and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Contracting.