06/01/12 — Welcome home: Community will rally around 4th Fighter Wing's new commander

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Welcome home: Community will rally around 4th Fighter Wing's new commander

This morning, Col. Jeannie Leavitt took command of the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

As with any change in leadership, the ceremony brought into sharp focus the importance of the position and the responsibilities ahead for the wing's newest leader.

And there was a sense of history, too, a reminder of those who have accepted the guidon previously and the hard work that has been put into creating the wing and maintaining its stellar reputation.

You think about the past, present and future during moments like this -- and no doubt, the momentousness of the occasion was not lost on the wing's newest leader.

Col. Leavitt is no stranger to Wayne County -- she has been assigned here previously -- but it is likely different this time.

She will be in charge not only of the mission, but also responsible for the airmen and their families who live and work here.

And that is itself an awesome and humbling responsibility.

She might remember what it is like to be a part of the Wayne County community. She might understand how much this community loves and supports this base and the men and women who work there.

She might remember the flags and the random thanks from those who meet airmen and their families around town.

She might remember when the town has rallied around the base during good times and bad.

But just in case she has forgotten, we are here to remind her and all those who work at home and who fight overseas to protect this country and its freedoms, that this is and will always be their adopted hometown.

A waving flag and the national anthem mean something here -- as do uniforms and salutes. We understand that it is the people who make the Air Force special and strong -- and the sacrifices it takes to protect a nation.

We consider Seymour Johnson AFB personnel part of our families -- our heroes. We cry when they are hurt; we rally when they need us; and we celebrate when someone else acknowledges just how special they are.

This is a proud Air Force town. Always has been and always will be.

For many of our residents, it is in their blood. There are plenty of retirees from all branches of the Armed Services here and proud veterans who have served their country with honor. That's why so many here never forget just what it means to wear the uniform.

There is history involved in today's events -- a landmark and milestone for the Air Force in general and the 4th Fighter Wing in specific. And that is not lost on us either. We know we are part of an historic moment.

So we are proud to welcome Col. Leavitt to her new post and to acknowledge the hard work and achievements that have brought her here.

And we promise to be there for her and her airmen whenever they need us -- just as we have been for their predecessors.

We will be your adopted hometown for as long as you and your family need us -- and will welcome you back from wherever your travels take you.

And, while we are at it, thank you to you and everyone who wears a uniform at Seymour Johnson, for protecting the country we love and for safeguarding the freedoms we promise never to take for granted.

Published in Editorials on June 1, 2012 12:42 PM