The following remarks were provided by the Fort Campbell Public Affairs Office and were taken from General McConville's Honor Eagle speech at Fort Campbell.
In just a few short hours, CSM Smith and I will depart Fort Campbell to join the division headquarters in Afghanistan as we assume responsibility for Regional Command East from the capable hands of the 1st Infantry Division, the “Big Red One”.
There are certainly many challenges ahead as we embark upon our next rendezvous with destiny. Yet, I am confident. I am confident because I have the honor of leading and serving with the great Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division (AASLT). Screaming Eagles, who stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us, Screaming Eagles who strive each day to uphold the legacy of this great division, Screaming Eagles who will accomplish our assigned mission at the highest standard that our nation demands and our people deserve. This is what serving in the 101st is all about.
But the challenges facing us in Afghanistan are not the only ones we will be facing as Screaming Eagles. Although I have complete faith, trust and confidence in BG Mark Stammer’s leadership and his ability to steer the ship through the stormy seas ahead, I remain very concerned about the impact that sequestration and budget cuts will have on our valued civilian employees and the quality of services we will be able to provide while we are deployed.
Last Friday, 1 MARCH, at about 0130 in the morning, I was getting ready to go out to the airfield and welcome back the RAKKASANs from their sixth combat deployment; the RAKKASANs being the most deployed BCT in the Army. And right before I left I checked the news to see if there was any 11th hour deal on sequestration and was disappointed to see that it would go into effect.
And as I drove to the airfield,.. and as many of you know it’s very quiet at this time in the morning on post…., I wondered;….. I wondered if people really understood what the effects of sequestration and a pending furlough would do to our civilian workforce and the families of this Division as we went off to war. I wondered if they knew that our great mission support element, the MSE under Jeff Yaeger, which will actually run this Division while we are gone, will be limited to a 32 hour work week and incur a 20% pay cut.
I wondered if they were aware that our teachers are Government Service employees and that the kids of our deployed Soldiers will only be able to go to school 4 days a week. I wonder if they recognized that our Child Youth Services Child Care Providers are GS employees and the furlough will result in reduced day care for our deployed and single parent Soldiers. I wondered how…if we did not get exceptions to the hiring freeze and furloughs, I would orchestrate power outages and fires on post so our high voltage repairman and firemen could be on duty when they happened.
I wondered how our valued civilian employees would pay their bills when many live pay check to pay check, I wondered how our families who have sacrificed so much over the last twelve years would weather another deployment with reduced services. I wondered how our community members who have provided unwavering support over the last 12 years would survive the economic impact.
But then I arrived at Hanger 3. No matter how many welcome home ceremonies you go to, no matter how early in the morning they are, not matter how bad the weather is, they are always special events. I saw the enthusiasm, excitement, and resilience of the families, friends, community members and fellow Soldiers who had gotten up early in the cold to welcome back their loved ones and friends.
I saw our unsung civilian employees working behind the scenes to make another successful welcome home ceremony; people we tend to take for granted; the air traffic controllers that ensure that the plane lands safely, airfield arrival control group that unloads the passengers and cargo, protocol who runs the ceremony and a host of others who operate selflessly behind the scenes.
It was then that I reaffirmed what a special place Fort Campbell is and I knew we would be Ok. It was then I realized that not only are our Soldiers Screaming Eagles but so are our families, our civilian workers and our community members. We are all Screaming Eagles. And though this Division, our families, our civilians and our community has contributed more than their fair share during the last twelve years of war, I knew then we will not be defeated by the budget axe, or anything else they throw our way.
We are all Screaming Eagles, we are all a band of brothers and sisters who will come together in the face of this adversity. We are all a band of brothers and sisters who understand that life is not fair and we have to deal with the hand we are dealt. We are all a band of brothers and sisters who will help each other weather this storm and the next storm because we are air assault strong.
We are Screaming Eagles from the 101st Airborne Division, this is what we do, this is who we are. Thank each and every one of you for what you do and what you sacrifice for our country. God bless our great Nation, our Soldiers, and our Families. – Air Assault!
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