Count your blessings...

  • Published
  • By Col. Chris Nowland
  • 71st Flying Training Wing commander
In the 1954 movie classic, "White Christmas," Bing Crosby sang the lyrics, "If you're worried and you can't sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep..." 

This is a great time of year to watch that movie with family and friends. And even if you don't get a chance to see the movie, it's a great time to count your blessings - both big and small. 

Certainly, I am a blessed man. Not only do I have three wonderful children and an incredible wife, but I have the honor of serving as your wing commander. Together, every three weeks, we graduate the men and women who will help ensure America's future. What a fantastic blessing to be part of an organization that is a vital part of keeping our nation strong and secure. 

When counting my blessings, instead of sheep, I think of the amazing relationship between Vance and our many friends and neighbors in the wonderful city of Enid. I'm constantly amazed how we reach out with an armada of volunteers for projects like Enid Lights up the Plains, the Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity and others. 

In return, the leadership of Enid is a voice in government watching out for Team Vance's needs. They team with us in Partners in the Sky, the Honorary Commanders program, and an event I look forward to in the spring - Enlisted Appreciation Night. 

When we count the wing's blessings, and there are many, what strikes me is that none of them would have been accomplished without the efforts of the great team we have here at Vance. We have a great operating base thanks to the dedicated professionalism of our Mission Support Group and our contract partners. 

Just think about the 2008 Open House and Air Show. We hosted more than 40,000 people who filled the flightline to see our best take to the sky. It is truly a unique blessing when you can show off the people and equipment that make America strong. 

We deployed and re-deployed 138 Vance warriors downrange in support of the Global War on Terrorism and all our Airmen served honorably, contributed to the effort and most importantly, no one was killed or seriously injured. 

Our Medical Group cut the ribbon on clinic renovations that improved their ability to serve both our active duty and retired warriors, and their families.

We also had the first of many assignments to Unmanned Aircraft Systems. While on an individual level it may have been an unexpected career direction, for the wing it was the beginning of our contribution to a powerful embrace of technology and a glimpse into the future. 

When you count your blessings instead of sheep, look inward to your family and friends. The holidays are a time of great joy with family and friends, and a time of great sorrow for those without. Set aside some time for the ones you know will be alone. A good Wingman never abandons a brother-in-need, so reach out and make sure all of our team is taken care of. 

No tally sheet of blessings would be complete without including the great support from our spouses and family members who day-in and day-out keep us in check and take care of our nation's future -- our children. 

Finally, please be safe in your activities and your travels. If you are driving to your destination, prepare your vehicle before departing. Carry warm clothing, a fully charged cell phone, and all the emergency equipment you might need. Let folks know when you are coming. Plan your journey to ensure a joy-filled celebration when you arrive. Come back to work in January rested, refreshed and invigorated, because we have a lot of blessings to earn in 2009. 

I am very proud to be part of an Air Force unit that performs the mission with as much professionalism and pride as does the 71st Flying Training Wing. I look forward to you showing the ORI team that Vance is a special place, a place blessed with fantastic people dedicated to an important mission that is accomplished with pride every day. 

Happy holidays...