By Airman Dillian Bamman, 23rd Wing Public Affairs / Published March 21, 2014
MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFNS) --
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III spoke to approximately 180 members of Leadership Georgia, a group of influential state citizens and leaders, about the Air Force's contributions to national security and the innovative spirit of its Airmen at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., today.
"People kind of forget what exactly it is that we do," Welsh said. "This nation was founded on a common idea that the greatest thing a nation can give its people is freedom, so you can hold your own destiny in your own hands."
Welsh said the U.S. Air Force is the greatest in the world because of the hard work and dedication of Airmen. And their contributions have been pivotal to the success of the joint warfighting team, something that doesn't happen by accident.
"Since 1943, over seven million men and women have deployed around the world during contingency operations," Welsh said. "Over ten thousand of them have died, but not one has died from enemy aircraft dropping a bomb on them. It takes people like you see in uniform today that are dedicated to their jobs to make sure air superiority happens."
Welsh also spoke about the importance of pride and his family's military legacy.
"(My dad) wore the Silver Star, has five Distinguished Flying Crosses and has over 9,000 flying hours," Welsh said. "When dad handed off those wings for graduating Air Force pilot training to my son, John, he handed over more than just a piece of metal. He handed off an Air Force, an unbelievably capable and powerful Air Force."
Welsh also shared stories of Airmen, highlighting their background and how they contribute to mission, like Maj. Isaac Bell, an F-15E Strike Eagle pilot.
"(Major Bell) fought in Combat Outpost Keating, a horrible fight in Afghanistan where two Army Soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor," he said. "The first airplane at the scene of the event was an F-15E, (Bell's) airplane. With his coordination, those two Soldiers got out of the fight alive. I could find at least 300 people here at Moody (AFB) with extraordinary stories like Major Bell's. Airpower starts right here in Georgia."
Having been the 347th Operations Group commander from June 1995 to April 1997, Welsh said it's always a pleasure coming back to Moody AFB and Valdosta.
"I have traveled the world a lot, whether it was with me and my family, or as a dependent traveling with my father," he said. "I've never lived anywhere more than three years at a time in my life. The only place that we were stationed at that felt like home, besides Texas, was here at Moody Air Force Base in the state of Georgia."
Welsh personally thanked the members of Leadership Georgia for what they do for the Air Force in addition to their contributions to the state of Georgia.
"Thank you for welcoming these Airmen to your businesses, your schools and your homes," Welsh said. "I can't repay you for that, but I can thank you for it. This is your Air Force, we serve your interest and we're also proud to do it."