PACAF commander celebrates Thanksgiving with Osan Airmen

Gen. Gary North, Pacific Air Forces commander, shares a Thanksgiving meal Nov. 25 with Airmen at the Gingko Tree dining facility, Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eunique Stevens)

Gen. Gary North, Pacific Air Forces commander, shares a Thanksgiving meal Nov. 25 with Airmen at the Gingko Tree dining facility, Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eunique Stevens)

Gen. Gary North, Pacific Air Forces commander, grabs a plate to serve turkey during a Thanksgiving meal Nov. 25 at the Gingko Tree dining facility, Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eunique Stevens)

Gen. Gary North, Pacific Air Forces commander, grabs a plate to serve turkey during a Thanksgiving meal Nov. 25 at the Gingko Tree dining facility, Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eunique Stevens)

Chief Master Sergeant Sgt. Brooke McLean, Pacific Air Forces command chief, and Mr. Tom Ritchie, a Hawaii-based civic leader, pause for a photograph while serving a Thanksgiving meal Nov. 25 at the Gingko Tree dining facility, Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eunique Stevens)

Chief Master Sergeant Sgt. Brooke McLean, Pacific Air Forces command chief, and Mr. Tom Ritchie, a Hawaii-based civic leader, pause for a photograph while serving a Thanksgiving meal Nov. 25 at the Gingko Tree dining facility, Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eunique Stevens)

Gen. Gary North, Pacific Air Forces commander, center, and Chief Master Sergeant Sgt. Brooke McLean, PACAF command chief, right, talk with Airmen before a Thanksgiving meal Nov. 25 at the Gingko Tree dining facility, Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eunique Stevens)

Gen. Gary North, Pacific Air Forces commander, center, and Chief Master Sergeant Sgt. Brooke McLean, PACAF command chief, right, talk with Airmen before a Thanksgiving meal Nov. 25 at the Gingko Tree dining facility, Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eunique Stevens)

Hawaii-based civic leaders, along with Osan and Pacific Air Forces leadership, observe a decontamination demonstration Nov. 24 in a 51st Medical Group facility at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Evelyn Chavez)

Hawaii-based civic leaders, along with Osan and Pacific Air Forces leadership, observe a decontamination demonstration Nov. 24 in a 51st Medical Group facility at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Evelyn Chavez)

Gen. Gary North, Pacific Air Forces commander, center, and Hawaii-based civic leaders observe a TRX Suspension Training system demonstration Nov. 24 in the fitness center at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Evelyn Chavez)

Gen. Gary North, Pacific Air Forces commander, center, and Hawaii-based civic leaders observe a TRX Suspension Training system demonstration Nov. 24 in the fitness center at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Evelyn Chavez)

Gen. Gary North, Pacific Air Forces commander, left, shakes hands with Col. Patrick Malackowski, 51st Fighter Wing commander, following the general's arrival Nov. 23 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eunique Stevens)

Gen. Gary North, Pacific Air Forces commander, left, shakes hands with Col. Patrick Malackowski, 51st Fighter Wing commander, following the general's arrival Nov. 23 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eunique Stevens)

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Airmen who came to Osan's Gingko Tree dining facility for a Thanksgiving meal may have been a little surprised to see Gen. Gary North, Pacific Air Forces commander, and the PACAF command chief behind the serving line.

The general, along with Chief Master Sergeant Sgt. Brooke McLean, PACAF command chief, Team Osan leadership and Hawaii-based civic leaders, served turkey, ham and other Thanksgiving staples. After serving, they shared both the meal and conversation with Osan Airmen.

General North said he is most thankful for America's men and women who volunteer to serve in the defense of the United States and its allies.

As important, he said, are the families who support those who serve.

"We're thankful for the freedoms we enjoy, and we should never forget those who have stood tall for our freedom and that of our allies," said General North. "I'm thankful for them and the families supporting their service."

Rounding out his 'top three', the general was thankful for "the opportunity to serve as an Airman among great Airmen on this joint team in the Pacific."

Airman 1st Class Amber Swearengin, 51st Fighter Wing, expressed her appreciation for the visit.

"As a first-term Airman, having the chance to meet with a four-star general - our PACAF commander, no less - is an amazing opportunity," she said. "It means a lot to us that our leadership, from the wing to the command level, is here serving and sharing Thanksgiving with us."

"Being away from my family and friends for the holiday, I wouldn't have it any other way," she said.

General North and the group arrived in the ROK Nov. 22, beginning a civic leader tour at Kunsan AB before flying to Osan the next day. During the tour the civic leaders toured base facilities, took a look at wing aircraft, participated in off-base cultural activities, and met with U.S. and ROK Airmen.

Mr. Brian Uy, one of the civic leaders, said that as a civilian, he'd never had the opportunity to see the Air Force up close before.

"It's just as impressive as I thought it would be," he said. "The leadership here takes care of everything in a professional, family-focused manner."

While noting the high quality of base facilities, Mr. Uy said he was even more impressed with the fact that while most Airmen are on one-year tours here, they're able to quickly step in and pick up the mission without missing a beat.

"Having seen how the service operates, I would definitely recommend the Air Force to anyone interested in serving our country," he said.