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Air Force leaders wish Airmen happy holidays

WASHINGTON -- The following is a holiday message from Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Gerald R. Murray:

"As 2005 draws to a close, we have the opportunity to reflect on the past year and prepare ourselves for 2006. For many of us, this season brings to mind a yearning for peace. Unfortunately, the enemies of peace are challenging those of us who promote liberty, tolerance and respect for human rights. That is why your service is vital to our nation. In this season of gift-giving, it is one of the greatest gifts you could bestow on your countrymen.

"We have seen this gift you have generously given -- and not just to America, but to all nations. You brought food, shelter and security to those whose lives were devastated by the tsunami in Asia and the Indian subcontinent. You saved lives and restored services to those who felt the immense destruction of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. You provided the conditions for the people of Afghanistan and Iraq to experience the gift of democracy. You have created the shield that protects America, flying countless sorties over our homeland. And you have given the gift of national security, by committing yourself to excellence in performing your duties in countless other ways that do not always receive public recognition.

"This gift you give would not be possible without sacrifice. Whether active duty, Reserve, Guard, or civilian, you work under conditions that are very demanding. Some of you are separated from your families this holiday season, deployed to hazardous and austere locations. We are incredibly proud of you and your families, whose support makes your sacrifice possible.

"We are also filled with pride in those who have fallen this year while serving in our Air Force. We shall always remember the gift they gave, and keep their families in our hearts.

"But as we have given the gift of service to our country, we have received much in return. Sometimes, it has been a care package or kind note from a stranger. Or it has been the support of the communities that lie outside our gates. It has been the unspoken thanks in the exhausted eyes of someone evacuated from a disaster. But one thing is certain -- we have received the gift of unwavering support from the people of this land.

"As the holidays approach, we urge all of you to reflect on the gifts you have given and received this year. We wish you the gifts of peace, health, and happiness in the coming year."