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Thanks for your service

Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. -- We've all had those days we'll never forget. One that stands out in my mind is the day I eft for Afghanistan. Driving away that morning, seeing my wife standing at the back door of our house holding our 10-week-old daughter ... I don't think I'll ever get that image out of my mind. But something else happened that day that put it all into perspective; that took the sting out of leaving my family, if only for a while.

I was unloading my seven duffle bags worth of gear at the airport curb when a baggage attendant ran up, grabbed a couple bags and said "thanks for your service; I'll get these for you." I smiled and said thanks back to him, then made my way into the terminal. Stopping at the coffee shop to get a snack and some java, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around to see an older woman smiling up at me. "Thanks for your service; please let me pay for your food and drink." Again smiling, I thanked her and turned to walk to security.

"This way Captain!" Looking around, I saw a TSA agent calling me over. "Thanks for your service; you can pass through security in the flight crew line." Smiling yet again, I thanked him and moved quickly through security.

Boarding the flight, I had settled into my seat hen a flight attendant asked me to get my gear and follow her; they were moving me to first class. When I stood up, the people in the plane broke out into applause, as they all thanked me for serving.

What had begun as one of the worst days of my life became a day I'll never forget due to the kindness of others. As we bring in another New Year, take the time to reflect on how fortunate we are to live in such a wonderful country in a time when serving in the military is looked upon with respect and gratitude. And take a moment to thank an airman for their service; I know they'll appreciate it.