Airmen proud of black contributions to terror war|
by Staff Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
319th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
2/9/2004 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. (AFPN) -- From the buffalo soldier of wars past to the KC-135R Stratotanker pilot of today supporting the war on terrorism, blacks have and continue to play a large role supporting the U.S. military.
With the ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, many blacks here said being a part of those operations is a reason to be proud and builds on their heritage.
“Much like all of the military, African Americans have taken great pride in defending America’s freedoms and fighting the war on terrorism, as well as liberating Iraq,” said Maj. Eric Brumskill, 912th Air Refueling Squadron director of operations and a KC-135R pilot. “You will find us in every job, whether operational or support, in every weapon system, every command and at every location.
“Sure, as a pilot of a KC-135 and often times as a staff member at deployed locations, I see a bit more ‘up close’ work,” he said, “but in the trenches, you will find many even closer in the Army; or many on the high seas in the Navy; and certainly you will find many an African-American Marine. I cannot say that an African American has done more than any other ethnic group, but we have certainly done our part to secure the liberties we hold so dear.”
James Bolton, a retired Air Force master sergeant and the chief of the treaty compliance office here, said he has seen a magnificent effort by blacks through his days in the Cold War with the buildup of intercontinental ballistic missiles. He said he still sees it now with the war on terrorism with an enemy that can be anywhere at any time.
“It has always been the willingness to lead others,” Mr. Bolton said. “It’s in our belief that we can perform at the high levels required in a combat environment.”
Mr. Bolton said he was proud to contribute his part, nearly 26 years, and to continue to contribute as a government civilian employee.
“It is something to be proud of,” Mr. Bolton said. “We all swore to defend the constitution which gives us all freedoms we should not take for granted. We are all Americans and I was and still am very happy to be a part of the greatest Air Force on the planet.”
Major Brumskill said the military has given him many opportunities such as seeing parts of the world others can only dream of.
“I may sound a bit mushy, but I like to think of it as patriotic,” Major Brumskill said. “The chance to serve my country has never been more gratifying than in recent times. Knowing that in some small way, I am allowing my friends, family and neighbors the opportunity to sleep better at night while I and others guard against attack is enriching.”
Airman 1st Class Robert Jones, a 319th Comptroller Squadron military pay technician, said he believes the black contribution during wars past and present was and still is a great influence.
“Without it, our armed forces might not have had enough personnel to win,” he said.
Airman Jones said it is important to remember the accomplishments of blacks during Black History Month because it does more than remind the black community what has been done.
“It also allows these accomplishments to be seen and heard by the rest of the country,” Airman Jones said.
Mr. Bolton said, like him, people should be proud of the black contribution and welcome it. It is something, he said, that makes this country great.
“I am proud of the African-American contribution throughout history, but more importantly, it’s very important for people who have never been exposed to the history to hear about it and learn from it,” Mr. Bolton said. “Thus the reason for Black History Month.”
In the war on terrorism, Major Brumskill said blacks will continue to be significant and the tradition will continue.
“We have risen in the ranks to great heights,” Major Brumskill said. “We have had commanding generals, pilots in the Navy’s Blue Angels, command chiefs and, of course, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell. We have set policy and lived up to all expectations throughout the history of our nation.
“We have shed blood sweat and tears and can take pride in knowing that the freedoms we hold so dear are still in place,” the major said. “My message: Be proud of your heritage and always strive to be the best.”