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Giving respect where respect is due

Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Brinkley, 19th Airlift Wing command chief

Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Brinkley, 19th Airlift Wing command chief

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- As I was traveling this week on a TDY, there was a fellow Airman who was departing for his deployment to the Middle East on the same plane as I was on. The flight attendant made an announcement thanking this young man, as well as others who served in uniform, and the entire plane gave this Airman a round of applause.

Today, we will honor our POW/MIAs from past conflicts with a luncheon. These honorees faced challenges perhaps many of us cannot remotely imagine. They deserve our utmost respect and appreciation for their selfless sacrifices. Yet, often we offer this type of recognition for those who entertain or humor us versus those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.

I am not diminishing the value of entertainment, humor or a great sporting event; however, all of these are possible in our society due to military members past and present.

I had the privilege of visiting with William McGinley who is a local Arkansan who was shot down in Europe during WWII. His mother was notified he was killed in action; she received a Western Union telegraph along with condolence letters from the president and the governor of Arkansas to name a few. Yet he was actually alive and evaded the enemy for more than seven months before making it back to allied territory.

As I listened to his story and looked at photos from his time in Belgium along with condolence letters from people such as President Franklin Roosevelt, I was completely humbled by his story. I would ask you all to never miss the opportunity to give respect and applause for those who don't demand it, yet truly deserve our highest admiration. If you are fortunate enough to meet our true heroes, such as our returning deployed personnel, or repatriated POWs, please take a moment to pay proper tribute; because if anyone deserves our respect, it's them.

Combat Airlift!