Top chief sends Thanksgiving message

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The following is a Thanksgiving Day message to all airmen from Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Gerald R. Murray:

"My wife, Sherry, and I are thankful for many blessings this season -- our children, our faith, our health -- but as we bow our heads to give thanks, it is you who often comes to our hearts and minds.

"As your chief master sergeant of the Air Force, I have seen you in action these past few months and frankly, I'm in awe. Whether visiting you at bases in the United States or at deployed locations around the world, one thing clearly stands out: America is fortunate to have such talented and dedicated men and women guarding its freedom.

"Maintaining that freedom is not without sacrifice. Time away from family, long hours, austere working conditions, these are costs our Air Force knows well. But we also know why we serve, and how important it is that we are at the front lines to protect our nation and its people.

"As you gather with your family and friends this Thanksgiving, many Americans will be expressing thanks for your service to our nation. They will be remembering those of you who have an empty seat at the table -- a father, mother, sister, brother, son or daughter who is away from home defending freedom.

"If you are the one separated from loved ones, I encourage you to reach out to your Air Force family around you. Take care of each other, just as your units back home are caring for your families.

"America is truly a better place because of your dedication and commitment to keeping it 'the land of the free and the home of the brave.' Thank you for your service, and have a happy Thanksgiving."