HomeNewsCommentariesDisplay

Thanks for all you do

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- As the 607th Air Intelligence Group commander, it's not always easy to keep people focused on the mission and to maintain morale. Sometimes in the monotony of day-to-day operations, exercises and taskings, we lose our focus and forget the value of what we do for our nation. 

Without this larger perspective, the task becomes the focus -- not where it fits into the section, squadron, wing, NAF or MAJCOM mission. The pitfall is that without a fundamental understanding or reminder of where we fit into the larger mission, it's easy to think our individual jobs or tasks have little, if any, impact on the overall Air Force mission. No matter how seemingly trivial the task, it has a place in our ability to ultimately employ air and space power in support of the United States. 

When our Republic of Korea neighbors see a U.S. servicemember in uniform, they see a member of the United States military -- not a maintenance, intelligence, supply or security forces person. The same is true for our countrymen back in the U.S.; it doesn't matter what you do, it only matters what you are -- a member of the greatest military the world has ever known. And whether you know it or not, many, many people in the civilian community -- in the ROK and back in the continental United States -- appreciate the sacrifice you make everyday. 

A couple of years ago I had the honor of seeing that appreciation in a very tangible, memorable event. In the summer of 2005, the day before I was to leave Fort Meade, Md., I re-enlisted one of my senior airmen on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in downtown Washington, D.C. Since this was her first re-enlistment, she wanted the event to be a memorable one, choosing to recite the oath on the exact spot where Dr. Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech. She asked to do the re-enlistment in the afternoon in service dress with a small contingent of squadron members in attendance. 

As we approached the spot, she was understandably nervous, both because of the significance of the ceremony and the fact she'd be doing it in so public a forum. Like most summer weekdays in Washington, the monument was packed with people, as was the surrounding area. As I read her the oath of enlistment, a crowd gathered and became very silent - intently watching as she recited the words. When we were through, a crowd of about 300 people - civilians - clapped and cheered for what they had seen. Only a handful of those present knew this young Airman, and many didn't really know the significance of this event. 

What they were clapping for was what she represented in her service dress - the United States military. And, by extension, what they were clapping for was every military member in work centers and on operations floors supporting our 24/7 mission of deterrence across the globe. What they were clapping for was the servicemembers separated from their families, stationed thousands of miles away overseas in places like Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq. What they were clapping for was every security forces member who guards our bases and resources through the cold nights and lonely weekends. What they were clapping for was to show their appreciation for what every person wearing a uniform guarantees them everyday - freedom. This young senior airman was a symbol to them, and on that day she was representing all of us. 

It's easy to forget that somewhere everyday someone appreciates what you do and what you give. But they do. When they clapped for this young senior airman, they were also clapping for you. No matter what your Air Force Specialty Code or job, remember that all around this base, across this country and back home you are surrounded by people proud of what you do everyday. 

Thank you for your service.