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Community - A lasting partnership

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Col. Thomas Sharpy, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander, expands on one of the wing priorities - community. (Courtesy photo)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Col. Thomas Sharpy, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander, expands on one of the wing priorities - community. (Courtesy photo)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Over the past several weeks I've shared with you my priorities for the wing: people, mission, family and community.

I want to give you my thoughts on the fourth priority, community.

Throughout my years in the Air Force I've learned that a big part of the military's success depends upon the support it receives from the community.

Fairchild and Spokane share an awesome relationship, the best I've had the good fortune to experience. The relationship is so strong that the city of Spokane won the Abilene Trophy for 2006, symbolizing the most supportive community in Air Mobility Command.

An example of this relationship is Operation Spokane Heroes, a group of local business and civic leaders whose purpose is to support the families of deployed servicemembers in the Spokane area. An example of OSH's support is the Holiday Party they are hosting beginning at 6 p.m., Nov. 30, at the carousel in Riverfront Park. Families of deployed military will be treated to pizza, sodas, carousel rides, and of course, a visit from Santa Claus himself.

Programs like Operation Spokane Heroes give base and community member's excellent opportunities to interact with each other and get to know and understand each other. Through that knowing and understanding, a strong and lasting partnership is built.

Our Honorary Commanders program involves selecting leaders from the Spokane region to be honorary commanders for Fairchild groups and squadrons. They are invited to unit functions like commander's calls, parties and other activities. Seeing first hand how Team Fairchild operates adds to the understanding bond between the base and the local community.

If you would like to contribute to this partnership, the base Community Relations office offers a variety of opportunities to interact with the community -- programs such as speaking engagements at local schools and civic organizations and volunteer opportunities throughout the Spokane area. I encourage you to contact Public Affairs and get involved in some of the programs they offer.

The effect of this partnership is evident throughout the community. For example, flags waving proudly in the streets, "Support our Troops" decorative stickers on cars or even store discounts given to military members.

I have heard countless stories from Airmen who have gone to restaurants where a complete stranger paid for their meal or bought them a drink as a sign of thanks for serving their country.

When you care about your community, your community will care about you. They are our neighbors, our friends and our families. Community is one of the reasons we put on our uniform every day. They are the reason we serve.

Priority number four -- community.