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Military

By USAF MSgt. Scott T. Sturkol

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Remember 'Why We Fight' This Memorial Day
(May 31, 2010)

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This bulletin board, featuring the words, "Why we fight," is in a 380th Air Expeditionary Wing building at an air base in Southwest Asia as shown on May 30, 2010.

 SOUTHWEST ASIA (5/31/2010 - AFNS
There's a small bulletin board just down the hall from my deployed office that has a simple sign above it that reads, "Why We Fight."

Placed on the bulletin board are a collection of miscellaneous items put up with mismatched push-pins. One item is a desert-colored U.S. flag patch. The patch is normally worn on a desert-colored flight suit by aircrew members. In my deployed wing, there are hundreds of aircrew members who carry a similar patch when they fly on combat missions over areas like Afghanistan and Iraq.

I have no doubts that each aircrew member who wears the flag patch
wears it with the utmost pride. My best guess is the patch was placed on the bulletin board in honor of all the aircrew members supporting missions every day.
Another item placed on the board is a hand-made paper bag decorated by a child. There is nothing written that shows the age of the child, but here is what it reads: "Thank you for all you've done for us. We really appreciate it. We love what you are doing for us. We love you! Again thanks for all you've done. Be careful. Be safe. Love, Jessica."

The note Jessica wrote on it is addressed to any deployed service member, but it does get the point across, hence why it earned a place on the bulletin board. It also binds with the many other items tacked on to the board: photos of family members.

All of the photos on the bulletin board of family members are those of children. They are representations of future generations of Americans. I even put a photo there myself. In January, I got a new granddaughter about a month after I deployed. I got a picture through e-mail, printed a copy and put it up there so I could walk past it every day, several times a day, to remind myself that hopefully I will get a chance to see her when I get home. In many ways it inspires me.

Other items on the bulletin board are a news clipping and a memorial service bulletin. The bulletin and news clip, dated from 2009, are about one person, an explosive ordnance disposal Airman who died from an improvised explosive device attack. The man who died had forward deployed from my current location to Afghanistan.

In the more than five months I've been deployed, the bulletin, news clipping and the flag patch have been in their place in the center of the bulletin board, a place of honor. No one has touched or moved them and I highly doubt that will ever change because of their importance.

Overall, I think everything on the "Why We Fight" board is perfectly represented.

First and foremost is the flag patch. The American flag represents everything I and all my comrades in arms serve in the military for. It represents freedom and it represents home. Wherever I am in the world, when I see the American flag, it brings me home. I imagine it does the same for aircrew members as they fly over Afghanistan and Iraq. The flag and what it represents is why we fight.

The note from Jessica and the family photos on the board show how much our military family members mean to us. They sacrifice so much every day. They give without asking for anything in return. They provide inspiration, support and love. It's parents and grandparents, spouses, children and grandchildren and other family who are protecting the home front every day. Our loved ones are why we fight.

And to those who came before us: our heroes, like Tech. Sgt. Anthony C. Campbell. Sergeant Campbell is the EOD Airman who gave his life in service to his country. It's in his honor and all the other brave men and women who gave their lives to defend our freedoms that we fight, and fight hard, every day.

This Memorial Day, I encourage everyone to remember the purpose of the day: honoring our heroes who have served and gave the ultimate sacrifice. I ask that you remember why we fight.
Article and photo by USAF MSgt. Scott T. Sturkol
380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Copyright 2010

Reprinted from Air Force News Service

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