Myers: Civilian, military relationship important

by Rebecca Burylo
Air University Public Affairs

5/31/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- Returning to enjoy the camaraderie of Montgomery and the "best hometown in the Air Force," former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and retired Gen. Richard Myers shared his appreciation of joint military and civilian communities at the Air University Foundation's luncheon May 23 at the Capital City Club.

"The idea that we would have a really tight relationship between the U.S. military and the communities we live in is a premier example here in Montgomery," he said. "This tight relationship where we count on each other, support each other is unique to America."

The lunch recognized the "career of a man who rose to the pinnacle of his profession," according to Joe Panza, executive director of Air University Foundation.

Myers' visit to Montgomery included the role of keynote speaker at the Air War College graduation after the luncheon.

He graduated from Maxwell's Air Command and Staff College as well as Auburn University of Montgomery.

Before retiring in 2005, he logged more than 4,100 flying hours and 600 combat hours. His awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Flying Crossand the Air Medal with 18 oak leaf clusters.

At the luncheon, Myers discussed the terrorist attacks on 9/11, when he served in an advisory role to the president, the secretary of defense and the national security agency and the consequential military operations.

He told the audience of his experience on that fateful day, when he was driving over the Potomac River and seeing the smoke from the attack on the Pentagon.

"There was black smoke and flames coming out of the Pentagon," Myers said. "That's when I realized it must be a dream. I slapped my face, and that hurt, so it wasn't a dream."

He explained how fragile our security is even today with civil and military unrest in many parts of the world, threats of terrorism and nuclear warfare, a poor national economy and the reduction of United States' military forces.

Myers reminded those in attendance of the resiliency of America, its people and its armed forces despite the challenges they face, the heartache of war and sacrifices for freedom.

"We still live in a very great nation, and we've got to be proud of that," he said. "We take such really good care of those who wear our country's uniform. Not all countries do that. I was reminded of that every time I drove to work past Arlington National Cemetery, I was reminded that a lot of folks sacrificed to get us this freedom."