Keep safety in forefront of thoughts during holiday

Vance Air Force Base, Okla. -- As we gather together and prepare to celebrate the holiday season, I want to personally thank all of the people who make up the 71st Flying Training Wing for helping to make 2006 an unqualified success! We accomplished our mission by training more than 400 new pilots while also deploying nearly 100 AEF warriors, and we did so without any fatalities or Class A or B mishaps. Your safety mindset makes that success possible, and that is an accomplishment I want to repeat again in 2007.

So, as you spend well deserved time with your family and friends I ask you to keep safety in the forefront of your thoughts. Taking the extra steps of planning out your activities will help eliminate or mitigate unnecessary risks-but only if you execute your plan. We get ourselves in trouble when we start to deviate from a good plan. I want each Team Vance member and their family to enjoy the holidays and return to work reenergized to have another successful year. That cannot happen if we lose focus on safety.

It is easy to get distracted with the excitement generated by the holidays, even as you continue to accomplish your work duties. Whether it is something personal or duty related, I ask that you give yourself plenty of time and thought towards being safe. Distractions lead to accidents or worse. Take the extra time and ensure that you and your family can celebrate the holidays.

I place an extra emphasis on supervisors and Wingmen to take care of their charges. It is your responsibility to look after our nation's treasure -- our people. I ask that you stay engaged with your fellow airmen and ensure they are safe. It is not mission accomplished if we cannot return our Team Vance members to their families and friends. You can do this by being responsible and advocating safety. Set an example that is easy to follow and continue to drive home the message that making responsible choices is the key to a safe and successful holiday.

For each person who lives and works at Vance, I ask that you take personal responsibility for ensuring your own safety. Some of the things I ask you to do for your safety are:

  • if you intend to consume alcohol, do so responsibly by abiding by the 0-0-1-3 rule and designating a driver or arranging for taxis;
  • when driving, please use caution, use seat belts and obey speed limits;
  • go home and ensure smoke detectors work and have a fire extinguisher handy;
  • don't spend the holidays alone, seek out your friends and families
Doing these few things will help ensure you truly have happy holiday. The Air Force needs each and every one of you at your best. During this holiday season, take that well-deserved time off to relax and enjoy being with friends and family. Stay focused on what you are doing and make responsible choices that will ensure the safety of you, your loved ones and the entire 71st Flying Training Wing team.

Thank you for all you do for your families, for Vance AFB, for your Air Force and for our nation!