Tag Archives: service before self

Is the Air Force in you?

By Chief Master Sgt. Edward Edgar
317th Recruiting Squadron superintendent

140412-F-CX842-030When I think about being a good Airman first, there are two quotes that have framed my focus.

The first came from Chief Master Sgt. A.C. Smith, who is the command chief master sergeant for the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. It was part of his address to the Team Hill 5/6 Association, and I was attending as the president of Hill’s Top 3. He said:

“I was 19 years old when I got into the Air Force. I was 32 when the Air Force got into me.”

Continue reading Is the Air Force in you?

Uncommon Airmen

Basic trainees recite the Oath of Enlistment at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Malherek
92nd Civil Engineer Squadron

 I do not choose to be a common man.

It is my right to be uncommon–if I can.

I seek opportunity–not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me.

I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed.

I refuse to sacrifice incentive for a hand-out. I prefer the challenges of life to a guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment over a stale calm of utopia.

I will not trade freedom for benefits or my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat.

It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act for myself, to enjoy the benefits of my creations and to face the world boldly and say, ‘This I have done.’

Dean Alfange, an American Statesman, wrote “An American Creed” in 1950. Let me explain why this resonates with me as a senior NCO and why it should with everyone wearing our nation’s uniform.

I believe each of us wearing our nation’s uniform has chosen an uncommon life. Because we are normally surrounded by people who have also chosen this life, we sometimes forget how special we really are. I’m quickly reminded of our uncommonness while spending time with non-military family and friends here in Spokane, Wash., my hometown in Minnesota and all across our nation. My friends and family are always quick to remind me how incredible my life is. They can’t ever imagine themselves doing what we Airmen do and going where we go to do it. They stand in awe of our discipline, our love for this country and our commitment to accomplishing the mission.

Let me remind you of our uncommonness. There are just more than 316 million people in the United States. There are less than 1.5 million active duty who serve in the military and are responsible for their safety and security.

There is nothing common about raising your hand and swearing to give your life to defend this nation.

There is nothing common about leaving your spouse and kids to go off to a location where you will serve in harm’s way. Remember, the mothers and fathers of America have handed you their sons and daughters. With the faith that you will mold them, protect them and lead them. There is nothing common about that!

Monday morning, whatever your specialty is, whether you’re fixing an aircraft, manning a security post, seeing patients at the clinic, repairing an air conditioner, refueling aircraft or training aircrews how to survive in hostile environments, know this: You are not common. You seek opportunity, not security. You want to dream, to build and to succeed. You are not ordinary. You are extraordinary!

George Orwell once said, “People sleep peacefully at night knowing rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

Your friends and family, your brothers and sisters, know that you, and Airmen like you, are prepared to protect them at all costs. Have no misconceptions, we are in a serious business, and we need serious people to carry out our mission. Uncommon people! Extraordinary people!

Air Force core values should extend into our personal lives, Sept. 12, 2012


Air Force logo - white

By Lt. Col. Thomas J. O’Connell Jr.
4th Airlift Squadron commander

The Air Force core values of integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do provide excellent guideposts on how to conduct our professional military lives. Because they are so closely associated with the Air Force, their application often stops there. In actuality, they are great guides for our personal lives as well.

This perceived limitation was highlighted to me a few weeks ago when I had the honor and privilege to address the Julius A. Kolb Airman Leadership School Class 12-F. During the discussion I used a quote from Abraham Lincoln, “Whatever you are, be a good one.”

The majority of those in the room were not only Airmen, but leaders of Airmen. My point was to challenge the recent graduates, who are now leaders of Airmen, to be good ones. The message was not unique; in fact it is encapsulated in our core value of excellence in all we do.

Afterward, I was approached by Airmen, civilians and retirees who said they really liked the “whatever you are, be a good one” part of the talk. In particular, one Airman who had recently separated from the Air Force was worried about how she would adjust to being a full-time mother.

She said Lincoln’s quote inspired her to be a better mom. Whereas before she was driven to be the best Airman she could be, now she would redirect that energy at being the best mother she could be.

The theme of excellence was obviously not new to her, but by discussing it in its earlier form by Lincoln, the message actually resonated with a larger audience.

While the opportunity to bring Lincoln’s words to the audience was rewarding, it highlighted to me that the core values concepts have become so closely associated with the Air Force that somehow people perceive them as a “military thing” when their usefulness is much wider.

So, if you’re an Airman, I encourage you to continue to live and internalize the core values. If you’re a retiree, a spouse or a civilian, I encourage you to do the same, but if Lincoln’s words have more resonance, then use them instead.

Whatever you are, be a good one!

Dispatch from Ali Base, 29 May 2009

This post is from Master Sgt. Russ Petcoff.  He’s an Airman deployed to the war and tells different stories from the desert. 


Memorial Day, May 25, did not go unnoticed on Ali Base, thanks to the hard work of Chief Master Sgt. Gerald Delebreau. He arranged a guards-of-honor vigil near the flagpole and Airmen’s Memorial in Bedrock.  


The vigil featured two Airmen pulling 10-minute shifts from 5 a.m. to midnight.  There were only two pauses, one at 3 p.m. for a moment of silence and another for the Ali Base first-ever Joint Service Retreat Ceremony. The chief worked more than 21 hours – through the scorching 108-degree heat and on his feet – to ensure a dignified remembrance for America’s servicemembers who paid the ultimate sacrifice. For Memorial Day 2009, Chief Delebreau embodied the second Air Force Core Value of Service Before Self! 


More than 220 Ali Base Airmen volunteered their time to stand vigil.  One Airman was Senior Master Sgt. Robert Clickener, (left) 407th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron.  Sergeant Clickener is deployed here from the 7th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, and his hometown is Las Cruces, N.M.  


Airmen with the 557th Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron have been busy with construction projects around Ali Base and Contingency Operating Base Adder.  



Staff Sgt. Kenya Shiloh writes in her mission feature on the unit, “Since their arrive to Ali Base, the unit has been working on several projects. They are constructing a Regional Class IV yard for the 14th Engineer Battalion from Fort Lewis, Wash., and modifying a Forward Arming and Refueling Point for the base. Squadron members are also building a new tactical operations center (TOC) for the battalion. … Other projects the 557th ERHS is working on include a motor pool, and an Army and Air Force Exchange Services pre-engineered building.”



Ali Base photographer Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky shot an awesome photograph of Staff Sgt. Robert Calton, 557th ERHS, welding a doorframe (left). Sergeant Colton is deployed here from the 819th RED HORSE Squadron, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., and hails from Modesto, Calif.



The slang term “bird brain” generally means someone not very smart.  However, that is not indicative of some of the birds here.  Outside the group headquarters building is a latrine with an air conditioner.  On Saturday, May 23, the temperature soared to more than 120 degrees!  Everything sought cool air, including the birds.  They perched on the threshold to the latrine and enjoyed the cool air seeping out.