Base thankful for safe return of personnel


Staff Sgt. Monnie Evans of the 27th Security Forces and his wife Kristi Evans sing “Come, Ye Thankful People Come” together during Tuesday’s Thanksgiving service at Cannon Air Force Base. CNJ photo: Darrell Todd Maurina

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE — As airmen gathered Tuesday evening for a Thanksgiving service at the chapel of Cannon Air Force Base, Chap. (Lt. Col.) Richard Hall reminded his congregation of the reason for the holiday.

“For some, it’s nothing more than turkey, the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions,” Hall said. “In the very first Thanksgiving that ever took place, William Bradford would have all the colonists in Plymouth come to the meeting house and hear the Word of God.

“The very fact of this gathering tonight is to remind us that we are a nation founded on God and trusting in his providence,” Hall said.

The base commander, Col. Robert Yates, read sections from the Thanksgiving proclamation issued by President George Washington and told those assembled that there is no inconsistency in being a political leader, military leader, and committed Christian.

“What struck me was in the day of George Washington, it was OK to get up and proclaim one’s faith without being attacked,” Yates said.

“We here at Cannon have so much to be thankful for this holiday season,” Yates said. “We deployed about 900 folks, and every single one of them came back safely. I give thanks to God for that.”

Yates told the congregation that he would try to do his part as base commander to make people feel welcome who can’t go home this week.

“I ask you to remember those who may not have a family to go home and have Thanksgiving with,” Yates said. “On Thursday, I look forward to going around and serving Thanksgiving turkey to our young airmen in the dining hall, and also taking something to our firemen, our security forces, and others who have to be on duty.”

Capt. Mark Ballesteros, a staff pharmacist with the 27th Medical Support Squadron, said he enjoys the support given by the military during holidays.

“It’s been hard to be away from my family but I have been treated like family by those here,” Ballesteros said.

Airman 1st Class Ben Dye of the 27th Equipment Maintenance Squadron won’t be staying at Cannon for the holidays, but he said he especially appreciates something the military is doing for his family. His brother, currently serving in the Army and deployed to Iraq, is being allowed to come home to his family in Lanark, Ill., during Thanksgiving and Cannon is allowing Dye to visit his family during that period as well.

“I appreciate hearing what everyone is thankful for, and I appreciate hearing Col. Yates’ speech about why we need to be thankful,” Dye said. “(My brother and I) are going to have at least two Thanksgiving meals with both grandmothers, and I’m going to drive with my brother to Indiana because Mom doesn’t want (my brother) driving so far alone after being gone so long.”


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