USAF colonel addresses veterans at senior center

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Janet Motes, director of the Colley Senior Complex, welcomed a packed house of veterans to the annual Veterans Day Breakfast at the Lillian Green Nutrition Center Tuesday. Motes told the veterans that there are no words to adequately express the country’s appreciation for their sacrifices.

“There is no way that we can repay the debt that is owned to you,” she said. “You are the ones who stepped up and paid the price for our freedom. We owe you more than we can ever give.”

However, when the featured speaker, Col. Lee Pittman USAF, Randolph AFB, stepped to the podium, he said that the soldiers are thankful for the opportunity to serve their country.

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“Many sacrifices are made but we come away better for having served,” the Troy native said. “I know that I’m a better person because of my service and I shudder at the thought of what I might have been if I had not joined the Air Force.”

Pittman spoke about the recent changes that in Air Force training to create a warrior mind set among the airmen.

“Airmen will now be more combat focused so that they can be deeply involved in ground operations,” Pittman said. “On Sunday, the basic Air Force training will be increased to eight and a half weeks. The extra two weeks will focus on combat training skills.”

Pittman said in 2004, the Army asked that the airmen help with convoy duty.

The Air Force’s convoy combat course is designed so that airmen will not only drive trucks but also be able to fight and survive on the ground.

Pittman said the deployment of airmen around the world is substantial.

“We have 33,000 airmen deployed around the world and 26,000 of those are in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa,” Pittman said.

In addition, Pittman said the Air Force has 210,000 at home stations and 4,000 troops in combat convoy assignments.

In one month, the Air Force delivered 4,000 truck loads of supplies to Iraq and that was without endangering soldiers on the ground.

Pittman’s pride in the United States Air Force is secondary to the pride that he has in his country and its ability to field the greatest fighting force on earth.

Motes expressed appreciation to Pittman for his service and for his willingness to address the largest group of veterans that have attended the annual Veterans Day Breakfast.