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We didn't start this fight, but we must win it

  • Published
  • By Col. Anthony Johnson
  • 455th Expeditionary Operations Group commander
We sent three young men and a young woman home in flag-draped, metal containers a few days ago.

I was flying over the scene shortly after one of the young men died.

The warrior we were talking to on the radio was audibly shaken by the event. Looking down on the situation from two to three miles above, I was too far removed to truly feel his pain. He obviously wanted to avenge the loss of a fellow hero and understandably wanted revenge for the pain he was suffering.

My flight lead may have helped him reap a bit of that revenge.

However, ladies and gentlemen, we are not in the revenge business.

Our business is to make it possible to get on an airplane without taking our shoes off and to carry a laptop, tooth paste, perfume and our Ipod on that airplane with us.

Our business is about building a free, democratic nation and to let the people of Afghanistan experience a better way than tyranny.

Our business is about establishing an economy here, built around commodities that compliment the values most Americans hold close to their hearts versus one that tears at the fabric of our society.

Our business is to restore the freedoms Americans enjoyed prior to 9-11.

In sort, our business is to make the world a better place for our children and grandchildren.

I mentioned that I was too far removed to feel the pain felt by the young man we were talking to on the radio. But when I landed my airplane safely on an airfield inside a secure compound, the pain became a bit more real as I visited the members of the squadron who had just lost one of their mates.

I felt completely helpless. There was nothing I could do to relieve their anguish.

They are warriors! Warriors conceal their grief and continue the mission, but they were hurting and I wish them God's Speed. As I think about the grief on their faces when they loaded their comrade's body on an airplane for the journey back to his family, the thought of my family having to endure that same pain is unbearable to me.

Although I look forward to going home, it will not be an occasion to celebrate.

When all of us that have come together for this common purpose complete our task and has done some good in this place, when the women and children of Afghanistan enjoy the freedoms that most Americans take for granted, then we can celebrate.

Please pray for the four young people who died fighting for our freedoms and thank them in the most sincere way you can.

Thank them for fighting for you and your family. Thank them for fighting for all the thankless citizens who are going about their lives as if nothing is happening here and in Iraq.

Pray that their families' grief will soon subside and that they will have peace.

Again, I thank you for volunteering to leave your respective towns, cities and countries and joining in this worthwhile effort. We didn't start this fight, but we must win it for our children and grandchildren!