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Once a Gunfighter, Always a Gunfighter

Col. Ron Buckley, 366th Fighter Wing commander, show his Air Force pride during the Air Force vs. Boise State University football game Oct. 22, 2012, in Boise, Idaho.  While he heads out to his new assignment he will always remain a Gunfighter! (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. David Liapis)

Col. Ron Buckley, 366th Fighter Wing commander, show his Air Force pride during the Air Force vs. Boise State University football game Oct. 22, 2012, in Boise, Idaho. While he heads out to his new assignment he will always remain a Gunfighter! (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. David Liapis)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Fellow Gunfighters,

I wanted to let you know how extremely proud I am of the 366th Fighter Wing. It has been an unbelievable honor and privilege to be your wing commander for the past two years. The "Gunfighter 1" Call Sign is a very prestigious title. However, it isn't the "1" that makes the title special; it is the "Gunfighter" part that makes it extraordinary.

This is a special wing! We have an exceptionally proud heritage dating back to World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. In fact, our moniker "The Gunfighters," was earned by our predecessors for displaying innovation in combat during the Vietnam War, and we have continued to live up to and expand that legacy of ingenuity and lethal precision. It is a legacy that was established by 366th Airmen like Capt. Lance Sijan. It is a legacy that has been upheld and strengthened by warriors like Capt. "Piston" Imlay, and it continues to be upheld by those currently deployed in harm's way.

In addition to our heritage, another thing that makes MHAFB special is the tremendous support of our local community. I can't express how much I appreciate the leadership of Mayor Tom Rist and the entire City of Mountain Home. Our Military Affairs Committee is, in a word, AWESOME!

Whenever I needed the town's support for anything, it was usually taken care of before I even had an opportunity to ask the question. I've never seen a community so supportive of our military. Thank You.

I'd also like to express how much I enjoyed the relationship with our Singaporean partners in the 428th Fighter Squadron. The Buccaneers have enriched all of our lives by sharing their culture and their friendship. Plus, they have sharpened our combat edge through spirited competition and phenomenal training. The RSAF is a first-class organization and I'm glad they are part of the Gunfighter team.

In the last two years, the Gunfighters have been extremely busy, yet incredibly effective.

MHAFB has been on fire (literally and figuratively). Gunfighter warriors have taken the fight to our enemies. Many individuals who wished to do harm to America no longer exist because of our combat effectiveness, and their sanctuaries continue to disappear. Hundreds of American and coalition ground troops made it home safely to their loved ones because of Gunfighter precision airpower. Our mission is extremely important and we're damn good at it!

While it is tough to predict what the future will hold, with emerging international threats and looming budget constraints, the one thing I know is the Gunfighters will get it done - through hard work, innovation and self-sacrifice. Gunfighter leadership, at every level, will carry the day.

This week is certainly bittersweet for me as I give up the "Gunfighter 1" title. However, I'm very happy to be handing the reins to one of my friends, Col. Chris "Junior" Short. I have known Colonel Short for many, many years and I know he will lead the Gunfighters to even greater accomplishments. I will be cheering for the 366th Fighter Wing all the way - once a Gunfighter, always a Gunfighter.

Ride Hard ~ Shoot Straight ~ Always Speak the Truth!

- Col. B