Farewell to the 45th Space Wing
By Col. Mark Bontrager, 45th Mission Support Group commander
/ Published July 17, 2008
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- To the men and women of the Patrick AFB and Cape Canaveral AFS communities, thank you for making the last two years in command of the 45th Mission Support Group so absolutely awesome! It's no wonder that the 45th Space Wing is the #1 Spacelift Wing in the world. As I top off this command tour and a career of 21 years, I am continually amazed at the professionalism and commitment of the men and women of the 45th Space Wing and especially the 45th Mission Support Group!
I asked myself, what made these last two years so great? My mind always goes back to one awesome quality of the 45th Space Wing team - a commitment to service! That quality will continue to propel this Wing to ever brighter futures.
For many of us, a commitment to service is really the heart of our motivation for what we do and why we do it so well. Some might say that service has a passive nature to it - it responds to what others want rather than shaping the future. I think that nothing could be further from the truth; true service is active and aggressive. It has a strong sense of duty and honor. It strives to grab hold of a problem and fix it and create the future for the good of the whole. It's all about tackling challenges that threaten to undo us through the fog and friction of life.
I've witnessed this commitment to service firsthand all over the 45th Space Wing.
Consider the Airman that is separating from the Air Force soon, but chooses to delay her separation for one more six-month deployment with her team. Consider the civil servant who willfully takes on increased responsibilities - without any immediate increase in grade. Consider the retiree who has faithfully served his country - and devotes hundreds of hours a year volunteering around the base. Consider the support of contractors who do what it takes to get the job done right. Consider the devoted families who encourage us as we accomplish the mission every day.
As I have reached the end of my Air Force career, I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve. When people ask me why I came into the Air Force, I often replied that "I didn't want to get any ordinary job, but I wanted to contribute to something bigger than myself." As I look back, I'm proud of my accomplishments, but I'm most proud of how my service contributed to improving someone's life or making the Air Force better. Moreover, one of the most interesting things about service is how it shapes you. I find that I am a far better person and leader because of my service to this Nation through its Air Force.
Remember that someday you too will put aside the uniform and take off that access badge. When you look back, let your memories be full of pride that you strove to make the Air Force better; that you aggressively grabbed hold of problems, fixed them and created a future that was better for the team and that you tackled the challenges and overcame them. Then, without a doubt, you can say that the Air Force and the men and women you served with, were better because you were there. And, you will find that you are better because you served so faithfully!
It has truly been my pleasure to serve with you all over the last two years. I will miss the great professionals of the 45 MSG - thank you for your service, loyalty, and trust. God bless you all!