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Unfinished end-of-year business

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The calendar year is flying by, but we still have important unfinished business to attend to before saying good-bye to 2007 in the way of welcoming a new commander at Air Force Space Command, celebrating diversity and closing out the Combined Federal Campaign.

General C. Robert Kehler took the helm at Air Force Space Command Oct. 24. In an Oct. 26 message to the Airmen of AFSPC he said, "I learned long ago that inspiration does not only come from the top down by commanders; it is reciprocated by the energy, passion and motivation displayed by America's Airmen serving at all ranks. I look forward to meeting you and working with you. I know our team, I know we share a common perspective, and I know the sky is no limit in Air Force Space Command!" General Kehler is a great Air Force leader and we are lucky to have him as our new boss.

While I know General Kehler expects us to keep working hard (as evidenced by our current ops tempo), it is also important that we take periodic breaks to refresh ourselves like we did last week with our Sports Olympiad. From all counts it was a smashing success--kudos to Jim Hickey, Liane Roche and our entire Services Division team for staging this superb event, which focused on fitness and teambuilding. I envision it becoming an annual event that gets bigger and better every year.

Cultural awareness is another avenue that helps with teambuilding. America's finest young men and women from various backgrounds come into our Air Force with fresh perspectives and energy that should be unbounded by gender, religious beliefs, color or creed. In that light, on Tuesday I had the honor of signing a proclamation declaring November as Native American Heritage Month here at Patrick and the Cape. Of all my responsibilities as installation commander, I consider ensuring an atmosphere of mutual understanding, respect and trust to be among the most important.

As you participate in the Native American events this month, I want you to contemplate on the significant role this group of Americans has and continues to make to the success of our military and nation; seek educational opportunities to better understand their culture; and celebrate the strength of diversity that defines the "United" in the United States of America.

Another part of teambuilding is helping those who are helping others. In addition to supporting our vigorous mission and Native American Heritage Month events, please continue supporting the Combined Federal Campaign. So far, the Patrick community has donated about $84,000. That is great, but I know we can do much better. Last year we raised $136,000. There are only about three weeks left, so if you have not given, please do so if you can. Go Sharks!