WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III send the following Memorial Day message to Airmen of the U.S. Air Force and their families:
Memorial Day provides an opportunity to reflect upon the sacrifices of our nation's uniformed service members, particularly the more than one million Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who gave their "last full measure of devotion" to preserve the freedoms we cherish. Many of us can envision a specific individual -- a relative, friend, or coworker -- who has paid the ultimate price in defense of America. Take a moment -- right now -- and think of that person and their family ... thank them for giving their all.
As we remember our fallen, we must also never forget our missing. More than 83,000 U.S. service members remain unaccounted for, more than 9,700 patriots still missing from the Korean War to today. Nearly 1,500 of those missing since the Korean War are Airmen, and we will never stop looking until all return home. Let us also honor the sacrifices of our "greatest generation" on this day of remembrance. Our ability to hear first-hand from our World War II veterans will not last forever, as the final Doolittle Tokyo Raider reunion earlier this year testifies, so take advantage of every opportunity to thank and learn from these heroes.
For the families of our fallen and missing, Memorial Day brings a particular poignancy as the nation recognizes an indescribable loss that the affected parents, spouses, siblings and children feel every day. Thankfully, our Air Force family surrounds and supports every member during times of loss, but we've had to repeat this ritual far too many times -- this year included. We must never let the sacrifices of our fallen, missing, captured or wounded be in vain.
To all Airmen, thank you for your sacrifices, past, present and future. We are honored to serve beside you in America's Air Force and in defense of this great nation.