Everyone Is a Recruiter

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By Rear Admiral Jeff Hughes
Commander, Navy Recruiting Command

If you had asked me about recruiting several years ago, I would have said that it’s obviously effective and made some casual comments about “them” (recruiters) succeeding in attracting the best and brightest to serve in the Navy. I recognized that it was an important mission, but, in my mind, it just happened. I didn’t think about or appreciate the people, processes, resources and dedication that it took to compete for talent and source the fleet.

Operations Specialist 1st Class Ian Roberts, assigned to Navy Recruiting Station Poway, speaks with an applicant about opportunities and benefits of joining the Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Anastasia Puscian/Released)
Operations Specialist 1st Class Ian Roberts, assigned to Navy Recruiting Station Poway, speaks with an applicant about opportunities and benefits of joining the Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Anastasia Puscian/Released)

Now that I’ve been the commander of Navy Recruiting Command for almost two years, I have a much different perspective. Previous assumptions and a recognized lack of awareness are now facts, and I want to share with you the realities of the Navy Recruiting mission and tell you about the phenomenal recruiters and support staff that make it happen.

Navy recruiters go out into communities across the country and even abroad, get to know the people, then actively seek out the very finest our country has to offer to inform them, influence them, inspire them and ultimately hire them to serve in our Navy.

Many of us are asked to engage in outreach events from time to time. We explain the greatness of our Navy, proudly describe the contribution we make for the nation and share our Navy experiences.  As we finish the engagement, we feel pretty good about ourselves and get back to our jobs.  Navy Recruiters are always doing outreach, each and every day.  The big difference is that they have to routinely affect monumental outcomes, closing life-changing deals for thousands of future Sailors.  They are the face of the Navy.

BATON ROUGE, La. (Nov. 3, 2016) Petty Officer Second Class Ernest Sanchez, a recruiter at Naval Recruiting District New Orleans, answers questions at an information booth setup during Baton Rouge Navy Week.  (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Grant P. Ammon/Released)
BATON ROUGE, La. (Nov. 3, 2016) Petty Officer Second Class Ernest Sanchez, a recruiter at Naval Recruiting District New Orleans, answers questions at an information booth setup during Baton Rouge Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Grant P. Ammon/Released)

Navy recruiters work autonomously in remote territories and highly concentrated urban areas, prospecting for new recruits and then guiding them through the process to successfully deliver them to the fleet.  They each have hard objective goals – yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, even daily.  Rarely do any of us at the individual level in the Navy have to consistently meet a measurable goal like this. We place a great deal of responsibility and accountability on our recruiters – and they deliver.

While recruiting can be exhilarating, ask any of them about their first contract, it can also be uncomfortable, lonely and demanding. While they are out in their communities, maintaining and promoting our image and reputation, recruiters have to work hard to influence young women and men to want to take this Navy journey with us.  They have to connect with a prospect, employing the marketing and sales techniques necessary to deliver a mutually beneficial value proposition.

For the prospect, this is the hardest decision they will have made in their lives, to date, and it’s the recruiter that makes this all happen – in the aggregate, over 40,000 times a year!

AMARILLO, Texas (March 9, 2016) Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Anthony Heath, a recruiter assigned to Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Dallas, right, encourages a future Sailor to hold a plank during a weekly delayed entry program meeting. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)
AMARILLO, Texas (March 9, 2016) Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Anthony Heath, a recruiter assigned to Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Dallas, right, encourages a future Sailor to hold a plank during a weekly delayed entry program meeting. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)

For 122 consecutive months, Navy Recruiting Command has achieved its active and reserve enlisted mission and this past year had the best performance in officer recruiting this decade; however, there are headwinds on the horizon. Resources remain tight, yet our mission continues to increase in both volume and quality to support the growing Fleet demands for the modern Sailor. We are experiencing a tougher and constraining national recruiting market environment. Even though America’s population is increasing, an increasing portion of our target cohort is determined to not be qualified to serve for mental, medical or moral reasons. Additionally, fewer youth have a propensity to serve due to the loss of awareness traditionally provided by family members or key influencers. This all leads to markedly greater competition among the other services and the private sector for the quality candidates we require.

HOUSTON (Oct. 20, 2016) Navy Recruiting District Houston’s Chief Petty Officer Gerard Labossiere discusses Navy opportunities with an interested candidate at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference downtown Houston Oct. 20. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Fahey/RELEASED)
HOUSTON (Oct. 20, 2016) Navy Recruiting District Houston’s Chief Petty Officer Gerard Labossiere discusses Navy opportunities with an interested candidate at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference downtown Houston Oct. 20. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Fahey/RELEASED)

So here’s how you can help. First, as you engage in outreach events, establish contact with the recruiters there to support you. I promise you they will be engaged and will capitalize on the opportunities you provide.  Second, and most important, please continue to send us the fleet’s very best Sailors to recruiting duty.

To get the applicants we need, we need the best recruiters–people of the same substance, character, intellect and experience as those that we hope to recruit. Applicants are looking to connect with someone that can confidently convey their Navy story and who they would aspire to emulate.

Navy recruiting is very rewarding, but we need to ensure these deserving Sailors are truly rewarded for their significant contribution to the readiness of our fleet as well. Most will return to the fleet after this demanding shore duty and want to remain competitive in their source ratings.

BALTIMORE, Md. (Dec. 10, 2016) Rear Adm. Jeffrey W. Hughes, Commander, Navy Recruiting Command, swears in 20 Future Sailors from Navy Recruiting District Philadelphia into the Navy during the Army Navy college football game.  U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st  Class Felicito Rustique Jr. (Released)
BALTIMORE, Md. (Dec. 10, 2016) Rear Adm. Jeffrey W. Hughes, Commander, Navy Recruiting Command, swears in 20 Future Sailors from Navy Recruiting District Philadelphia into the Navy during the Army Navy college football game. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Felicito Rustique Jr. (Released)

If we are to be the premier maritime fighting force in this era of return to true peer competition, if we are to be the employer of choice, then Navy recruiting needs to be the premier recruiting force. Recruiters underwrite the future success of our Navy. The Navy’s competitive advantage comes from our exceptional people and their future starts with Navy Recruiting Command!

For more news from Navy Recruiting Command, visit us on the web, on our YouTube channel, and on Facebook.


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Everyone Is a Recruiter

Your Navy Operating Forward -Sri Lanka, Japan, Suez Canal

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Right now your Navy is 100 percent on watch around the globe helping to preserve the American way of life. Whether it be operating and training off the coast of Spain or forward deployed to the Arabian Gulf, the flexibility and presence provided by our U.S. naval forces provides national leaders with great options for protecting and maintaining our national security and interests around the world. The imagery below highlights the Navy’s ability to provide those options by operating forward.


EAST CHINA SEA: Airman Francis Mateodiaz, from Coamo, Puerto Rico, signals a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter assigned to the “Dragons” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced) for landing aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Gavin Shields/Released)

SUEZ CANAL: The aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) prepares to sail under the International Peace Bridge as it transits the Suez Canal. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher Gaines/Released)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: An F/A-18F Super Hornet attached to the “Blacklions” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213 is fully loaded with 10 GBU-32 1,000 pound bombs aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matt Matlage/Released)

PACIFIC OCEAN: An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the “Golden Dragons” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 192 conducts a high-speed flyby during an air-power demonstration in the western Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Granito/Released)

OKINAWA, Japan: Sailors prepare to launch Landing Craft Utility (LCU) 1651, assigned to Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7, from the well deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay/Released)

SOUTH CHINA SEA: The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) conducts a replenishment-at-sea with the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Richard E. Byrd (T-AKE 4). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Byron C. Linder/Released)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) arrives in Colombo, Sri Lanka to support humanitarian assistance operations in the wake of severe flooding and landslides that devastated many regions of the country. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Fulton/Released)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: An EA-18G Growler assigned to the “Lancers” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 131 prepares to launch from the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matt Matlage/Released)

PHILIPPINE SEA: The fleet replenishment oiler USNS John Ericsson (T-AO 194) transits alongside the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during a replenishment-at-sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Abbate/Released)

YOKOSUKA, Japan: Seaman Daniel Keaton, assigned to the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), paints the hull of the ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Patrick Semales/Released)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: A rigid-hull inflatable boat approaches the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) during small boat operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brent Pyfrom/Released)

PACIFIC OCEAN: F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 fly over the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), front, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108), right, USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112), left, and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) in the western Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano/Released)

Tell us which photo best shows YOUR Navy Operating Forward !


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USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with a merchant vessel at approximately …

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Your Navy Operating Forward -Sri Lanka, Japan, Suez Canal

Your Navy Operating Forward – Japan, Philippines, Bahrain

Image 170516-N-XN177-351-683x1024.jpg

Right now your Navy is 100 percent on watch around the globe helping to preserve the American way of life. Whether it be operating and training off the coast of Spain or forward deployed to the Arabian Gulf, the flexibility and presence provided by our U.S. naval forces provides national leaders with great options for protecting and maintaining our national security and interests around the world. The imagery below highlights the Navy’s ability to provide those options by operating forward.


YOKOSUKA, Japan: The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) departs Fleet Activities Yokosuka for its 2017 patrol. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart/Released)

ARABIAN GULF: An MH-60S Sea Hawk attached to the “Tridents” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 9 prepares to carry supplies during a replenishment-at-sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mario Coto/Released)

KADENA, Japan: Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Alfonzo Bridgett, assigned to the “Tridents” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 26, places a torpedo under a P-8A Poseidon aircraft at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean R. Morton/Released)

ARABIAN GULF: An MH-60S Sea Hawk attached to the “Tridents” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 9 carries supplies to the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) (GHWB). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mario Coto/Released)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Fire Controlman 2nd Class Brandon Godina, from San Antonio, Texas, returns to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) from the French Navy Cassard-class anti-air frigate FS Jean Bart (D615). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robert S. Price/Released)

ARABIAN GULF: An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the “Blacklions” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213 launches from the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mario Coto/Released)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Sailors chock and chain an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 46 during flight quarters aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robert S. Price/Released)

KADENA, Japan: Aviation Ordnanceman Christian Harman, assigned to the “Tridents” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 26, drives a MHU 38 loader at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean R. Morton/Released)

Tell us which photo best shows YOUR Navy Operating Forward !


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“Faces of the Fleet” is a collection of images of Sailors serving our country in …

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Your Navy Operating Forward – Japan, Philippines, Bahrain

Spokane Hosts Navy Week 2017

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Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician Ian Brody, attached to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 1, talks to students from Freeman High School about EOD robots during Spokane Navy Week static display. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason Noble/Released)



Sailors interacted with residents of Spokane, Washington, in a series of community outreach events during Spokane Navy Week, May 15-21.  Sailors performed public concerts, visited a children’s hospital, and participated in school events and community projects. Additionally, members of the Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group One trained with the Spokane Police Bomb Squad.  The Navy Week program serves as the Navy’s principal outreach effort into areas of the country without a significant Navy presence.  The program is designed to help Americans understand that their Navy is deployed around the world, around the clock, and ready to defend America at all times.


U.S. Navy Band Northwest performs for the public during “Navy Night” at the INB Performong Arts Center in Spokane, Wash., during the 2017 Spokane Navy Week. (U.S. Navy Photo by Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Erin Bullock/Released)

Rear Adm. Kevin Kovacich, director of Plans and Policy at U.S. Cyber Command, meets with Kjerstin Bell on the “Good Day Spokane” morning show to discuss his job and the activities that will take place during Spokane Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason Noble/Released)

Equipment Operator 1st Class Raymond Pope, left, and Equipment Operator 3rd Class Dustin Best, both assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 18, prepare a board for bracing while volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher S. Carson/Released)

Aviation Maintenance Administrationman Airman Chad Callahan, front, and Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Robert Montgomery, both assigned to USS Constitution, pack produce at Second Harvest Food Bank at a community service project during Spokane Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason Noble/Released)

U.S. Navy Band Northwest’s Brass Quintet performs at Woodridge Elementary School during Spokane Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua R. Nistas/Released)

Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician 3rd Class Shane Grubbs, assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 3, talks about the rocket propelled grenade during a static display at Freeman High School during Spokane Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason Noble/Released)

Rear Adm. Kevin Kovacich, director of plans and policy at U.S. Cyber Command, meets some of the patients of the VA Medical Center during a Spokane Navy Week tour and meet-and-greet. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason Noble/Released)

Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician Ian Brody, attached to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 1, talks to students from Freeman High School about EOD robots during Spokane Navy Week static display. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason Noble/Released)

Chief Personnel Specialist Laura McDonald, senior enlisted leader of Naval Operations Support Center (NOSC) Spokane, helps assemble a wall while volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher S. Carson/Released)

Sailors assigned to U.S. Navy Band Northwest performs at North Valley High School during Navy Week Spokane, (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher S. Carson/Released)


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By Rear Adm. Brian “Lex” Luther Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget Today …

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Spokane Hosts Navy Week 2017

Celebrating Navy Week in Memphis

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Musician 2nd Class Daniel Oren, assigned to the U.S. Fleet Forces Band, Four Star Edition, plays keyboards during a performance at Millington Middle School in Millington, Tenn., during Memphis Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian T. Glunt/Released)



Coinciding with the Memphis Air Show and Naval Support Activity Mid-South’s Centennial, the fourth Navy Week of 2017 hosted Sailors during Memphis Navy Week May 8-14.  The Navy Week program serves as the Navy’s principal outreach effort into areas of the country without a significant Navy presence.   The program is designed to help Americans understand that their Navy is deployed around the world, around the clock, ready to defend America at all times.

Pilots assigned to the U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, walk down the flight lline before their flight demonstration at the Memphis Airshow. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel M. Young/Released)
Pilots assigned to the U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, walk down the flight lline before their flight demonstration at the Memphis Airshow. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel M. Young/Released)
Musician 2nd Class Daniel Oren, assigned to the U.S. Fleet Forces Band, Four Star Edition, plays keyboards during a performance at Millington Middle School in Millington, Tenn., during Memphis Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian T. Glunt/Released)
Musician 2nd Class Daniel Oren, assigned to the U.S. Fleet Forces Band, Four Star Edition, plays keyboards during a performance at Millington Middle School in Millington, Tenn., during Memphis Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian T. Glunt/Released)
Navy Counselor 1st Class Troy Stocking, assigned to USS Constitution, leads a Memphis Navy Week presentation at Douglass Elementary School on one of Constitution’s most publicized engagements. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua Hammond/Released)
Navy Counselor 1st Class Troy Stocking, assigned to USS Constitution, leads a Memphis Navy Week presentation at Douglass Elementary School on one of Constitution’s most publicized engagements. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua Hammond/Released)
Rear Adm. Paul Pearigen, right, commander, Navy Medicine West, tours the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), with Dr. Kennard Brown, executive vice chancellor of UTHSC, during Memphis Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Cameron Pinske/Released)
Rear Adm. Paul Pearigen, right, commander, Navy Medicine West, tours the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), with Dr. Kennard Brown, executive vice chancellor of UTHSC, during Memphis Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Cameron Pinske/Released)
Sailors assigned to the U.S. Fleet Forces Band, Four Star Edition, perform during Memphis Navy Week at The Pyramid in Memphis, Tenn. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian T. Glunt/Released)
Sailors assigned to the U.S. Fleet Forces Band, Four Star Edition, perform during Memphis Navy Week at The Pyramid in Memphis, Tenn. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian T. Glunt/Released)
The U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, Delta pilots complete the Fleur de Lis maneuver in a salute to forward deployed forces at the Memphis Airshow. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel M. Young/Released)
The U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, Delta pilots complete the Fleur de Lis maneuver in a salute to forward deployed forces at the Memphis Airshow. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel M. Young/Released)
Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Johnson, assigned to USS Constitution, shows off a Constitution Cutlass at the Sycamore View Boys & Girls Club as part of Memphis Navy Week presentation.
Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Johnson, assigned to USS Constitution, shows off a Constitution Cutlass at the Sycamore View Boys & Girls Club as part of Memphis Navy Week presentation.
Musician 3rd Class Julius Coker, from Philadelphia, assigned to the U.S. Fleet Forces Band ensemble, Four Star Edition, calls for students to show their dance moves at Millington Middle School in Millington, Tenn.during Memphis Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian T. Glunt/Released)
Musician 3rd Class Julius Coker, from Philadelphia, assigned to the U.S. Fleet Forces Band ensemble, Four Star Edition, calls for students to show their dance moves at Millington Middle School in Millington, Tenn.during Memphis Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian T. Glunt/Released)


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By Vice Adm. Tom Rowden Commander, Naval Surface Forces There are many constants in the …

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Celebrating Navy Week in Memphis

Operation Christmas Drop 2015

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By Anderson Air Force Base Public Affairs

The 2015 Operation Christmas Drop officially kicked off Dec. 8 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Military members from the 36th Wing, 374th Airlift Wing, 734th Air Mobility Squadron, 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, and international partners from Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force gathered for the opening ceremony celebrating the first ever trilateral execution of Operation Christmas Drop.

Ongoing since 1952, Christmas Drop is the Department of Defense’s longest running humanitarian airlift mission and impacts more than 20,000 islanders annually. C-130 aircrews will deliver nearly 40,000 pounds of supplies by executing more than 20 low-cost, low-altitude airdrop training missions to islanders throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Federated States of Micronesia and Republic of Palau.

We have compiled this gallery of our favorite images that put you in a C-130 with the aircrews.

Enjoy!

A young girl colors the side of a donation box that is being prepared for Operation Christmas Drop Dec. 5, 2015, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. During the humanitarian air drop mission, aircrews from the U.S., Japan and Australia will deliver a variety of donations to remote island residents via low-cost and low-altitude airdrops from C-130s. Children decorated the boxes to add their own holiday wishes for children on the islands. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Riedel/Released)
A young girl colors the side of a donation box that is being prepared for Operation Christmas Drop Dec. 5, 2015, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. During the humanitarian air drop mission, aircrews from the U.S., Japan and Australia will deliver a variety of donations to remote island residents via low-cost and low-altitude airdrops from C-130s. Children decorated the boxes to add their own holiday wishes for children on the islands. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Riedel/Released)
A local villager waits while Louis Mangtau, Chief of Fais Island, sorts through supplies that were dropped during Operation Christmas Drop 2015, Dec. 8, 2015, at Fais Island, Federated States of Micronesia. Operation Christmas Drop is a humanitarian/disaster relief training event where C-130 crews provide critical supplies to 56 islands throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Federated States of Micronesia and Republic of Palau.This year marks the first ever trilateral execution that includes air support from the U.S. Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and the Royal Australian Air Force.(U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
A local villager waits while Louis Mangtau, Chief of Fais Island, sorts through supplies that were dropped during Operation Christmas Drop 2015, Dec. 8, 2015, at Fais Island, Federated States of Micronesia. Operation Christmas Drop is a humanitarian/disaster relief training event where C-130 crews provide critical supplies to 56 islands throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Federated States of Micronesia and Republic of Palau.This year marks the first ever trilateral execution that includes air support from the U.S. Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and the Royal Australian Air Force.(U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
A C-130 Hercules assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron drops a bundle filled with donated goods and supplies during Operation Christmas Drop 2015, at Fais Island, Federated States of Micronesia, Dec. 8, 2015. Airmen delivered over 800 pounds of supplies to the island of Fais during the drop. This year marks the first trilateral Operation Christmas Drop where the U.S. Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and the Royal Australian Air Force work together to provide critical supplies to 56 Micronesian islands impacting 20,000 islanders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
A C-130 Hercules assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron drops a bundle filled with donated goods and supplies during Operation Christmas Drop 2015, at Fais Island, Federated States of Micronesia, Dec. 8, 2015. Airmen delivered over 800 pounds of supplies to the island of Fais during the drop. This year marks the first trilateral Operation Christmas Drop where the U.S. Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and the Royal Australian Air Force work together to provide critical supplies to 56 Micronesian islands impacting 20,000 islanders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
Islanders from Fais watch a C-130 Hercules fly over head during Operation Christmas Drop 2015, at Fais island, Federated States of Micronesia, Dec. 8, 2015. A C-130 Hercules assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron delivered over 800 pounds of supplies to the island of Fais during Operation Christmas Drop 2015. This year marks the first ever trilateral Operation Christmas Drop where the U.S. Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and the Royal Australian Air Force work together to provide critical supplies to 56 Micronesian islands.(U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
Islanders from Fais watch a C-130 Hercules fly over head during Operation Christmas Drop 2015, at Fais island, Federated States of Micronesia, Dec. 8, 2015. A C-130 Hercules assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron delivered over 800 pounds of supplies to the island of Fais during Operation Christmas Drop 2015. This year marks the first ever trilateral Operation Christmas Drop where the U.S. Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and the Royal Australian Air Force work together to provide critical supplies to 56 Micronesian islands.(U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
Islanders from Fais sit down to wait for the bundle drop during Operation Christmas Drop 2015, at Fais Island, Federated States of Micronesia, Dec. 8, 2015. A C-130 Hercules assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron delivered over 800 pounds of supplies to the island of Fais during Operation Christmas Drop 2015. This year marks the first ever trilateral Operation Christmas Drop where the U.S. Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and the Royal Australian Air Force work together to provide critical supplies to 56 Micronesian islands. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
Islanders from Fais sit down to wait for the bundle drop during Operation Christmas Drop 2015, at Fais Island, Federated States of Micronesia, Dec. 8, 2015. A C-130 Hercules assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron delivered over 800 pounds of supplies to the island of Fais during Operation Christmas Drop 2015. This year marks the first ever trilateral Operation Christmas Drop where the U.S. Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and the Royal Australian Air Force work together to provide critical supplies to 56 Micronesian islands. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
A low-cost, low-altitude bundle of donated goods drops to Ngulu island, Federated States of Micronesia, Dec. 11, 2015, during Operation Christmas Drop. Operation Christmas Drop allows the 374th Airlift Wing and international partners from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force to practice dynamic delivery airdrop with unsurveyed drop zones while providing critical supplies to 20,000 islanders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
A low-cost, low-altitude bundle of donated goods drops to Ngulu island, Federated States of Micronesia, Dec. 11, 2015, during Operation Christmas Drop. Operation Christmas Drop allows the 374th Airlift Wing and international partners from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force to practice dynamic delivery airdrop with unsurveyed drop zones while providing critical supplies to 20,000 islanders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
(Left to right) Maj. Bryan Huffman, Pacific Air Forces C-130 pilot, and Staff Sgt. Joel Powell, 36th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, drop a low-cost, low-altitude bundle to Ngulu island, Federated States of Micronesia, Dec. 11, 2015, during Operation Christmas Drop. This is a PACAF event which includes a partnership between the 374th Airlift Wing, Yokota Air Base, Japan; the 36th Wing, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam; the 734th Air Mobility Squadron, Andersen AFB of the 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Hawaii; the University of Guam; and the Operation Christmas Drop private organization. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian airdrop operation with 2015 being the first trilateral execution with support from Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force. (U.S. Air  Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
(Left to right) Maj. Bryan Huffman, Pacific Air Forces C-130 pilot, and Staff Sgt. Joel Powell, 36th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, drop a low-cost, low-altitude bundle to Ngulu island, Federated States of Micronesia, Dec. 11, 2015, during Operation Christmas Drop. This is a PACAF event which includes a partnership between the 374th Airlift Wing, Yokota Air Base, Japan; the 36th Wing, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam; the 734th Air Mobility Squadron, Andersen AFB of the 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Hawaii; the University of Guam; and the Operation Christmas Drop private organization. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian airdrop operation with 2015 being the first trilateral execution with support from Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
36th Airlift Squadron loadmaster and Col. TY Chamberlain, 36th Wing vice-commander, drops a low-cost, low-altitude bundle to Kayangel Atoll, Republic of Palau, Dec. 11, 2015, during Operation Christmas Drop. This year marks the 64th year of Operation Christmas Drop, which began in 1952, and is the first trilateral execution of the event with support from Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force C-130s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
36th Airlift Squadron loadmaster and Col. TY Chamberlain, 36th Wing vice-commander, drops a low-cost, low-altitude bundle to Kayangel Atoll, Republic of Palau, Dec. 11, 2015, during Operation Christmas Drop. This year marks the 64th year of Operation Christmas Drop, which began in 1952, and is the first trilateral execution of the event with support from Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force C-130s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
A low-cost, low-altitude bundle containing supplies, educational materials, toys and other donated goods, dropped from a U.S. C-130, floats toward Kayangel, Republic of Palau, bringing holiday cheer Dec. 11, 2015 during Operation Christmas Drop. This year marks the 64th year of Operation Christmas Drop, which began in 1952, and is the first trilateral execution of the event with support from Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
A low-cost, low-altitude bundle containing supplies, educational materials, toys and other donated goods, dropped from a U.S. C-130, floats toward Kayangel, Republic of Palau, bringing holiday cheer Dec. 11, 2015 during Operation Christmas Drop. This year marks the 64th year of Operation Christmas Drop, which began in 1952, and is the first trilateral execution of the event with support from Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
Airmen from Team Yokota and Andersen wave out the back of a C-130H Hercules to the people of Kayangel, Republic of Palau, Dec. 11, 2015, during Operation Christmas Drop. Every December, C-130H Hercules aircrews from Yokota head to Andersen Air Force Base to execute low-cost, low-altitude humanitarian airdrops to islanders throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau. These islands are some of the most remote locations on the globe spanning a distance nearly as broad as the continental U.S. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian airdrop operation with 2015 being the first trilateral execution with support from Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
Airmen from Team Yokota and Andersen wave out the back of a C-130H Hercules to the people of Kayangel, Republic of Palau, Dec. 11, 2015, during Operation Christmas Drop. Every December, C-130H Hercules aircrews from Yokota head to Andersen Air Force Base to execute low-cost, low-altitude humanitarian airdrops to islanders throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau. These islands are some of the most remote locations on the globe spanning a distance nearly as broad as the continental U.S. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian airdrop operation with 2015 being the first trilateral execution with support from Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
Maj. Bryan Huffman, left, Pacific Air Forces C-130 pilot, checks a drop zone over Ngulu island, Federated States of Micronesia, Dec. 11, 2015, during Operation Christmas Drop. This year marks the 64th year of Operation Christmas Drop and the first time international partners joined in execution through Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force C-130 support. The event provides critical supplies to 56 Micronesian islands impacting about 20,000 people covering 1,000 by 1,800 nautical miles of operation area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
Maj. Bryan Huffman, left, Pacific Air Forces C-130 pilot, checks a drop zone over Ngulu island, Federated States of Micronesia, Dec. 11, 2015, during Operation Christmas Drop. This year marks the 64th year of Operation Christmas Drop and the first time international partners joined in execution through Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force C-130 support. The event provides critical supplies to 56 Micronesian islands impacting about 20,000 people covering 1,000 by 1,800 nautical miles of operation area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
Aerial image of Fais Island, Ulithi Atoll, Federated States of Micronesia, Dec. 8, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
Aerial image of Fais Island, Ulithi Atoll, Federated States of Micronesia, Dec. 8, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
C-130s from the U.S. Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force park on the ramp at Andersen Air Force Base, Dec. 6, 2015 in preparation for Operation Christmas Drop. This year marks the 64th year of Operation Christmas Drop and the first trilateral execution of Department of Defense's longest running humanitarian airdrop mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
C-130s from the U.S. Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force park on the ramp at Andersen Air Force Base, Dec. 6, 2015 in preparation for Operation Christmas Drop. This year marks the 64th year of Operation Christmas Drop and the first trilateral execution of Department of Defense’s longest running humanitarian airdrop mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
Staff Sgt. Travis Livingston, 36th Airlift Squadron flight engineer, checks instruments over the Pacific Ocean, Dec. 11, 2015, during Operation Christmas Drop. Every December, C-130H Hercules aircrews from Yokota head to Andersen Air Force Base to execute low-cost, low-altitude humanitarian airdrops to islanders throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau. These islands are some of the most remote locations on the globe spanning a distance nearly as broad as the continental U.S. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian airdrop operation with 2015 being the first trilateral execution with support from Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
Staff Sgt. Travis Livingston, 36th Airlift Squadron flight engineer, checks instruments over the Pacific Ocean, Dec. 11, 2015, during Operation Christmas Drop. Every December, C-130H Hercules aircrews from Yokota head to Andersen Air Force Base to execute low-cost, low-altitude humanitarian airdrops to islanders throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau. These islands are some of the most remote locations on the globe spanning a distance nearly as broad as the continental U.S. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian airdrop operation with 2015 being the first trilateral execution with support from Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
First Lt. Sydney Croxton, 36th Airlift Squadron C-130 pilot, flies over Republic of Palau, Dec. 11, 2015, during Operation Christmas Drop. This year marks the 64th year of Operation Christmas Drop, which began in 1952, and is the first trilateral execution of the event with support from Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force C-130s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
First Lt. Sydney Croxton, 36th Airlift Squadron C-130 pilot, flies over Republic of Palau, Dec. 11, 2015, during Operation Christmas Drop. This year marks the 64th year of Operation Christmas Drop, which began in 1952, and is the first trilateral execution of the event with support from Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force C-130s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
Col. TY Chamberlain, 36th Wing vice- commander, writes a holiday greeting to the recipients of one of the boxes of donated goods in support of Operation Christmas Drop, Dec. 11, 2015. Operation Christmas Drop is a PACAF event which includes a partnership between the 374th Airlift Wing, Yokota Air Base, Japan; the 36th Wing, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam; the 734th Air Mobility Squadron, Andersen AFB of the 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Hawaii; the University of Guam; and the 'Operation Christmas Drop' private organization. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian airdrop operation with 2015 being the first trilateral execution with support from Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force. (U.S. Air  Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
Col. TY Chamberlain, 36th Wing vice- commander, writes a holiday greeting to the recipients of one of the boxes of donated goods in support of Operation Christmas Drop, Dec. 11, 2015. Operation Christmas Drop is a PACAF event which includes a partnership between the 374th Airlift Wing, Yokota Air Base, Japan; the 36th Wing, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam; the 734th Air Mobility Squadron, Andersen AFB of the 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Hawaii; the University of Guam; and the ‘Operation Christmas Drop’ private organization. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian airdrop operation with 2015 being the first trilateral execution with support from Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
Maj. Lucas Crouch, 374th Airlift Wing pilot, and 1st Lt. Sydney Croxton, 36th Airlift Squadron pilot, conduct preflight checks Dec. 11, 2015, during Operation Christmas Drop. Every December, C-130H Hercules aircrews from Yokota head to Andersen Air Force Base to execute low-cost, low-altitude humanitarian airdrops to islanders throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau. These islands are some of the most remote locations on the globe spanning a distance nearly as broad as the continental U.S. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian airdrop operation with 2015 being the first trilateral execution with support from Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
Maj. Lucas Crouch, 374th Airlift Wing pilot, and 1st Lt. Sydney Croxton, 36th Airlift Squadron pilot, conduct preflight checks Dec. 11, 2015, during Operation Christmas Drop. Every December, C-130H Hercules aircrews from Yokota head to Andersen Air Force Base to execute low-cost, low-altitude humanitarian airdrops to islanders throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau. These islands are some of the most remote locations on the globe spanning a distance nearly as broad as the continental U.S. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian airdrop operation with 2015 being the first trilateral execution with support from Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
Villagers from Piig, Federated States of Micronesia, look on as a C-130 Hercules from Yokota Air Base, drops them a bundle of donated goods during Operation Christmas Drop 2015 on Dec. 13, 2015. Operation Christmas Drop is the Department of Defense's longest running humanitarian mission covering 56 remote islands in Micronesia. This is the first year the Royal Australian Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force have participated in the drops. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Melissa K. Mekpongsatorn)
Villagers from Piig, Federated States of Micronesia, look on as a C-130 Hercules from Yokota Air Base, drops them a bundle of donated goods during Operation Christmas Drop 2015 on Dec. 13, 2015. Operation Christmas Drop is the Department of Defense’s longest running humanitarian mission covering 56 remote islands in Micronesia. This is the first year the Royal Australian Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force have participated in the drops. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Melissa K. Mekpongsatorn)
An island in Republic of Palau, Dec. 11, 2015, during Operation Christmas Drop 2015. This year marks the 64th year of Operation Christmas Drop, which began in 1952, and is the first trilateral execution of the event with support from Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force C-130s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
An island in Republic of Palau, Dec. 11, 2015, during Operation Christmas Drop 2015. This year marks the 64th year of Operation Christmas Drop, which began in 1952, and is the first trilateral execution of the event with support from Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force C-130s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo/Released)
Airmen pack donated books for Operation Christmas Drop Dec. 5, 2015, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Crews built 100 bundles with donations such as non-perishable food items, clothing, fishing supplies, tools, toys and other various goods that intend to bring holiday cheer to remote Pacific Islanders. Operation Christmas Drop is a humanitarian aid/disaster relief training event where C-130 aircrews perform LCLA airdrops on unsurveyed drop zones while providing critical supplies to 56 islands throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Federated States of Micronesia and Republic of Palau. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Riedel/Released)
Airmen pack donated books for Operation Christmas Drop Dec. 5, 2015, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Crews built 100 bundles with donations such as non-perishable food items, clothing, fishing supplies, tools, toys and other various goods that intend to bring holiday cheer to remote Pacific Islanders. Operation Christmas Drop is a humanitarian aid/disaster relief training event where C-130 aircrews perform LCLA airdrops on unsurveyed drop zones while providing critical supplies to 56 islands throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Federated States of Micronesia and Republic of Palau. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Riedel/Released)

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Operation Christmas Drop 2015

Grateful for our Airmen

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By Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr. Air Force Social Media

Unofficially Thanksgiving is the kickoff to the season of gratitude and thankfulness expressed during the holidays. The Air Force social media team would like to say that we are grateful for the opportunity to highlight and share the stories of our most valuable assets in the Air Force’s inventory. That’s our Airmen! We would like to take a moment to express our thankfulness to the Airmen for all your hard work supporting the mission of the Air Force, to fly, fight, and win; in air, space, and cyberspace. You continue to demonstrate with confidence our Air Force core values: Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all you do.

The First Sergeants Council made 125 Thanksgiving baskets Nov. 20, 2015, inside the Chapel Activity Center on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., for Airmen selected by the first sergeants around base. After making the baskets, the first sergeants delivered them to the Airmen while they worked. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brandon Valle/Released)
The First Sergeants Council made 125 Thanksgiving baskets Nov. 20, 2015, inside the Chapel Activity Center on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., for Airmen selected by the first sergeants around base. After making the baskets, the first sergeants delivered them to the Airmen while they worked. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brandon Valle/Released)
Airman 1st Class Natalie Corona, 99th Force Support Squadron food service apprentice, prepares garlic bread to be served for dinner at the Crosswinds Dining Facility on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Nov. 18.  The Crosswinds DFAC will be serving Thanksgiving meals to Airmen and Department of Defense ID cardholders on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mikaley Kline/Released)
Airman 1st Class Natalie Corona, 99th Force Support Squadron food service apprentice, prepares garlic bread to be served for dinner at the Crosswinds Dining Facility on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Nov. 18. The Crosswinds DFAC will be serving Thanksgiving meals to Airmen and Department of Defense ID cardholders on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mikaley Kline/Released)
Senior noncommissioned officers and officers serve food to Airmen during the 2013 Thanksgiving luncheon at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. (U.S. Air Force photos/Airman 1st Class Sandra Marrero/Released)
Senior noncommissioned officers and officers serve food to Airmen during the 2013 Thanksgiving luncheon at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. (U.S. Air Force photos/Airman 1st Class Sandra Marrero/Released)
Desserts and breads line a table during the annual Thanksgiving meal Nov. 27, 2014, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The base dining facility staff prepared Thanksgiving meals more than 9,000 servicemembers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kia Atkins/Released)
Desserts and breads line a table during the annual Thanksgiving meal Nov. 27, 2014, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The base dining facility staff prepared Thanksgiving meals more than 9,000 servicemembers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kia Atkins/Released)

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Grateful for our Airmen

The Road to Recovery

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By Retired Master Sgt. Daniel Waugh

Archery
Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Daniel Waugh, draws his bow back during training for the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games being held at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. , June 19-28, 2015. Waugh is competing in shooting and archery in this year’s games. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)

My story began in 2006 the day after Christmas while I was on my third deployment to Iraq as a tactical air control party Airman. My team and I were on patrol in Sadr City, Iraq, completing a blocking operation for a special operations team that was on a mission.

As we provided protection for the special operations team, there was a blast from a rocket propelled grenade launcher that hit my vehicle and knocked me out of the turret. We all were fine, but while my team was EXFIL-ing (removing personnel from a hostile environment), we were hit again. Next thing I know, I woke up and was lying on the ground. I have never really spoken about this.

One of the guys in my truck was killed. My driver lost his leg, and I woke up fine.

So I thought.

After the deployment, I came home and enjoyed life for five months before I was tasked to deploy again. Little did I understand the injuries I had suffered. I sustained a brain injury and a broken back, and I blew out my right ear drum, which left me with significant balance issues (not allowing me to run anymore or walk quickly).

Through a friend of a friend, I was able to meet athletes from the Wounded Warrior Program. I always knew there was a program specifically for wounded warriors, but I never knew the full extent of the adaptive sports program. So I went to see what this was all about.

I thought I had recovered; I thought I was resilient. I mean, I went back to a war zone three times after getting blown up. I thought nothing could faze me.

In February 2015, I went to an Air Force Wounded Warrior camp known as ”Trials,” three months after having back surgery. On day one, I wanted go home as I decided this wasn’t for me.

Although I wanted to leave, I stuck it out for two days, and I made the team. However, I started to realize I hadn’t recovered. It had been eight years since getting injured, and I never knew that I was still struggling with things. Slowly, I eventually began to open up to people on the team. This is when my healing process began.

Robin Hood
Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Daniel Waugh, celebrates hitting a “Robin Hood” during his archery practice at the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games being held at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. , June 19-28, 2015. A “Robin Hood” is when the archer hits another arrow of theirs dead on into the end of the arrow on the target. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)

Because I made the team, I was able to work and meet additional athletes at a training camp held at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, in preparation for the Warrior Games. This is when I met the amazing people of the Air Force Wounded Warrior Adaptive Sports Program. This is when it clicked.

There are pillars of resiliency, and socially I wasn’t there. I had dealt physically, mentally, spiritually, etc., but socially, I had shut out the Air Force. I began to open up more socially in the Air Force and speak to the other members of the wounded warrior team. I started to hear their stories and get to actually know the other people, realizing I wasn’t alone. That is when I realized how great the Wounded Warrior Program is, and I began to put myself back together.

Now I am here today getting ready to compete in the Warrior Games, and I’m still progressing in my healing process.

It has been a long road to get here. I know everyone has his or her own struggles and road to travel. There are people in different stages; it can take years to really feel like you are there. But I am here, and I didn’t think I was going to be here. But I am happy that I am.

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The Road to Recovery