Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh is reminding airmen this holiday season in a somber – but realistic – message that Air Force casualties affect everyone, and the need to take care of one another has never been greater.
In his latest “Airman to Airman” video, Welsh emphasizes the need to stay safe this holiday season by showing a rolodex – one of four on his desk – that holds the names of every airman who’s died since he became chief.
“I’ve been the chief for 820 days now, and there are about 818 names in these boxes, so we lose about one person a day in our United States Air Force,” Welsh says in the video posted Nov 20.
Welsh says that before you think he’s just a “weird old guy” for keeping records like this on his desk, it serves a bigger purpose.
“The reason I have it and asked my staff to keep track of this while I was in this job is to remind me about what’s most important about this job – and when I ask you to take care of each other I’m thinking about this box,” Welsh says.
While airmen are busy downrange in their global missions – drawing down in Afghanistan, continuing the fight against the Islamic State – Welsh says he wants to see everyone back in January after the holidays.
Welsh also thanks members for a record breaking year: He credits airmen for a new ground fatality milestone, the lowest record in 10 years, and the best flying safety record over the past year.
Watch more of Welsh’s video below.