Loss of Airman Felt During of 101 Days Campaign

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Air Commandos, we have suffered a great loss this past weekend. Airman 1st Class Eric Toothaker was tragically killed at the age of 24 in a kayak incident. My deepest condolences are extended to the family and colleagues of this warrior. Our hearts go out to them, and we will do all we can to support them in this trying time. They are in our thoughts and prayers.

It is a terrible coincidence that this incident has happened at the beginning of the 101 Critical Days of Summer, and in light of this recent event I must reinforce our focus on safety. Statistically, more fatalities and mishaps occur during the 101 days from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The primary reason for this is the increase in participation in higher-risk activities such as boating, swimming and motorcycling

You deserve to play hard because you work hard. Every day you are doing amazing things for your country. But when you're out there playing hard, you need to practice personal risk management. Simply put, think the action through before you do it and take the proper safety precautions. Continue to ask yourself, "Is it worth it"?

Aside from practicing risk management, I ask each of you to continue to look out for one another. Taking care of ourselves, our wingmen and our families is a large part of the Air Commando culture. Teamwork and wingmanship do not stop at the front gate, whether on duty or off, we need to take care of each other.

Here's the bottom line: Safety is that split-second decision where there is no do-over. Once that decision is made, the sequence of events to follow are already pre-determined ... unfortunately some with career-threatening or life-threatening results. I need you to make the right decision. You are too important to your family, to your co-workers and to your nation.

During this year's campaign, I want all of you to take time to think about those split-second decisions. Supervisors, I'm depending on you to enforce proper safety procedures on duty and to encourage safe practices off duty.

Have a good, safe summer, Air Commandos. Never forget that YOU are our most important resource.