Since 9/11 a new generation of veterans has earned our thanks. This year’s Presidential Proclamation for Veterans Day reads in part:
On days like this, we are called to reflect on immeasurable burdens that have been borne by so few. We pay tribute to our wounded, our missing, our fallen, and their families—men and women who have known the true costs of conflict and deserve our deepest respect, now and forever. We also remember that our commitments to those who have served are commitments we must honor not only on Veterans Day, but every day. As we do so, let us reaffirm our promise that when our troops finish their tours of duty, they come home to an America that gives them the benefits they have earned, the care they deserve, and the fullest opportunity to keep their families strong and our country moving forward.
In the last two weeks over 6000 troops of the New Jersey and New York National Guard have been involved in the response to Hurricane Sandy. Federal military assets have also been deployed. Here’s a quick overview of only a few NORTHCOM assignments:
- Navy Expeditionary Combat Command units conducted an assessment at the Hoboken Ferry Terminal to determine the feasibility of increasing existing capabilities.
- The Defense Logistics Agency delivered meals, fuel and disaster blankets. Over 1.5 million meals were delivered to West Virginia; 40,000 gallons of fuel were delivered to five Verizon sites in New Jersey and New York in order to assist in the effort to restore phone lines; and 150,000 disaster blankets were delivered to New York City.
- U.S. Transportation Command, via Air Mobility Command provided C-5s and C-17s heavy airlift aircraft support to move 61 power restoration vehicles, associated equipment, non-medical personnel and cargo from Travis and March Air Force Bases, Cal., to Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, New York. U.S. Transportation Command also transported 63 utility vehicles and 132 passengers from Phoenix, Arizona to Stewart Air National Guard Base, New York.
- Air Mobility Command moved 120 people into the New York City area that are a part of the Department of Health and Human Services Disaster Medical Assistance Teams. As part of that movement, the 305th Air Mobility Wing from McGuire Air Force, N.J., moved approximately 50 passengers on a C-17 from Columbus, Ohio, and the 436th Airlift Wing from Dover Air Force Base, Del., moved approximately 70 passengers from Dallas-Fort Worth, also on a C-17 to John F. Kennedy International Airport.
- Another 15 power restoration vehicles, 1 helicopter and 32 operators were flown from McChord Air Force Base in Washington to Stewart Air National Guard Base in New York.
- DOD has provided 100 high-volume water pumps (350 gallons per minute and greater) with qualified teams to support the operation and maintenance of the equipment.
In many Christian churches this is also the day set aside to remember Martin of Tours who — as a non-Christian soldier — is most often recalled for dividing his military cloak to share with a beggar in need, an act of particular charity and humility. Later as a Bishop Martin persuaded Roman authorities to treat prisoners with dignity and defended heretics from capital punishment.
I do not have a militant personality. But I honor the courage, compassion, commitment, restraint and initiative of those who follow in Martin of Tours footsteps.