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Happy New Year!

01/08/07 -- Happy New Year! The past year has been a time of record achievement, progress and renewed hope for the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Keesler Air Force Base. It has been a story of heroes, men and women of Team Keesler and hundreds of contractors and volunteers, who have come together to mark a pivotal moment, a year of transition and new beginnings.

I am moved and amazed by your enthusiasm, spirit, and courage, and salute your outstanding efforts to rebuild and transform Keesler Air Force Base and our local communities.

Although we have only completed year one of a four-year building process, your magnificent accomplishments can be seen throughout our community. Our training mission has surpassed all expectations. Recovery efforts are in full swing and will transform how we live, work and play. The Air Force's second largest medical facility has brought patient care back to new heights. Not only have you brought Keesler back to life , you have given back to the community by donating over 65,000 hours of volunteer work and set new standards in the Air Force Assistance Fund and Combined Federal Campaign drives. Everyday you have made a difference and it is easy to see positive, value added change at every turn. And the results of your efforts have not gone unnoticed, as the 81st Training Wing has garnered more than forty-two higher headquarters and Air Force Awards in 2006.

Just as each New Year provides us an opportunity to reflect on our past accomplishments, it also, more importantly allows us to look forward and chart our future course.

In 2007, we will build upon our successes from the year past, embracing the opportunities which lie ahead. Together we will work to meet our Air Force's priorities to win the war of terror, to develop and take care of our Airmen, and to recapitalize and modernize our force.

On the home front, we will continue our efforts to ensure the needs of our people are met, in exceeding mission requirements, in making positive, lasting change in the rebuilding of Keesler Air Force Base and providing community outreach to those in need. In the very near-term you will see the opening of the AAFES mini-mall and the base marina. Demolition will take place on several large facilities and we will start work on the base golf course to bring it to United States Golf Association standards. By mid-year we should see the opening of the new base gas station/shoppette and the move of the Mission Support Group back into the Sablich Center.

As we go through the rebuilding and recovery process, other opportunities will present themselves. Air Force Smart Operations 21 will become an integral part of our lives as we reshape and transform our processes to do things more effectively, efficiently, and smarter. No suggestion will be too bold, as embracing change will be key to our success. This New Year will also allow us the opportunity to show the Air Force that nothing can keep you down as we prepare for the re-accreditation of the Keesler Medical Center and set our plan in motion to receive an OUTSTANDING rating on our Operational Readiness Inspection scheduled for December.

Together, there is nothing we can't accomplish. If we face 2007 with the same resilience, hard work and energy as we did last year, our aspirations for a better Mississippi Gulf Coast and Keesler community will be assured. We have an unlimited horizon of opportunity to shape our future and we all play a major role in shaping our destiny. As we embrace the New Year, thank you for what you have done and for what you will do in the days ahead. Laura and I wish you and yours a prosperous and Happy New Year!