Tag Archives: service

Favorite fan going-away gifts, redeployment mementos

By Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

FB-post-giftsLast month, we asked you to share your most unforgettable going-away gifts or redeployment mementos, and you came through in grand fashion. We received more than 200 comments on our Facebook page with people sharing everything from plaques and retirement shadow boxes to custom, handmade keepsakes. Each item tells a unique story that connects an Airman with their flight, squadron, base and Air Force heritage. These particular gifts caught our eye. Do any of them spark a memory from your own military career?

Continue reading Favorite fan going-away gifts, redeployment mementos

Carrying the flag

By Airman 1st Class Jonathan Bass
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Imagine more than 73,000 people cheering at the top of their lungs, clapping and whistling as five blocks of red, white and blue are stretched across a pristine field by service members dressed in their best.

Then, silence as the Parris Island Marine Band, assigned aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina, plays the Star Spangled Banner.

The haunting melody echoes through the stadium; elation erupts from the stands as the final notes are played and a C-130 Hercules from the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard, soars overhead. Old Glory is folded, and put into storage for another day.

Continue reading Carrying the flag

Why do you serve?

by Chief Master Sgt. Marc Schoellkopf
319th Medical Group

As Airmen, we all serve. From the airman basic to the chief of staff, we all serve. Our government civilians serve. Our spouses and children serve. We are part of the Air Force family, which exists solely to protect our great nation and all of its citizens.


We protect our citizens’ freedom of speech, the right to criticize our actions, and the right to question the government policies which we follow as required through our chain of command. We are in the business of public service, and it is never about us.

Why do I serve? My answer has changed over the years, like I’m sure it has for many of you. I don’t see the world the same way as I did as an airman basic. My needs, beliefs, and values have changed and grown with the experiences and opportunities that our Air Force has provided for me.

Nonetheless, it is a very important question that I have spent countless hours debating at each and every reenlistment. In order to reenlist, I had to provide myself with a positive response to two very fundamental questions: 1) Do I still enjoy what I do? and 2) Am I still contributing?

If the answer to either question had been a “no,” then it would have been time to seek employment elsewhere. The first question has usually been easy to answer; the latter is a little more difficult and takes some self-reflection and taking into account honest feedback from subordinates, peers and supervisors.

During my chief master sergeant orientation, I vividly remember some of my peers being taken aback when then Chief Master Sgt. James Cody, Air Education and Training Command’s Command Chief, said: “We are the Air Force… not a job corps.” As the discussion continued, more and more of them started buying into this philosophy and realigned themselves to the “right side of the issue.” Backstories on why we don’t meet standards are usually interesting… but they are always irrelevant! As supervisors, once we remove our emotions we can look at issues objectively and stop treating good workers as good Airmen. Our Core Values separate the two.

I have caught myself plagiarizing the aforementioned quote several times. I have used it to illustrate my belief that professional duties take precedence over personal desires.

During my time in AETC, I had the opportunity to talk to thousands of Airmen, and one of my main questions during briefings was, “Why did you join to serve?” Even after ten years of varying duties in Basic Military Training, I was still amazed how much their answers changed in just a few weeks.

It always seemed as if I had asked two different questions. The initial answers were generally pretty similar because they only heard “Why did you join?”

“To travel and see the world, to get an education, to get away from my folks” were the responses that topped the list. Just before graduation, however, the answers were different.

The responses included being part of a higher calling, upholding democracy, and being part of an organization where responsibility, accountability, justice and humility are at the forefront of our daily actions. They had finally heard “why do you serve?”

We all “got it” during our initial accessions training. We were fired up to answer our nation’s call with little regard for our own personal gain. As Airmen in the most sophisticated air arm of the most powerful military on the globe, it is incumbent upon us to live our Core Values on a daily basis, not only on the job but in all our actions 24/7 and to strive for perfection and to reject mediocrity both in our personal behavior and in the performance of our teams and subordinates. It is not only about doing it right, but also not tolerating those who violate rules and standards.

If we no longer “get it,” our duties and responsibility become a job rather than a career of service. It is at that time that we have a decision to make: “Do I get back in line, or do I seek employment elsewhere?”

Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I do my full duty, the rest will take care of itself.” Those words hold as true today as they did in his day. As Airmen, we all serve. We are in the business of public service, and it is never about us.

The next time you get dressed to go to work, take one more look in the mirror and ask yourself: “Why do I serve?”

PHOTO: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kristopher Tomes, a pararescueman with the 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, re-enlists aboard a HC-130 minutes before jumping near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Nov. 19, 2013. Tomes is deployed from the 308th Rescue Squadron and has performed more than 150 jumps. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Staci Miller/Released)

What’s your Air Force relationship status?

By Chief Master Sgt. Tamala Hartz
97th Security Forces Squadron

Air Force Symbol
How are things between you and the Air Force these days? Would you say the two of you are in a committed relationship? Are you happy with the Air Force? Is the Air Force happy with you? Are either of you thinking of ending the relationship? These may sound like silly questions, but when you really think about it, your relationship with the Air Force is a lot like your relationships with friends and loved ones. A career in the Air Force will require work, maintenance and sacrifice similar to those efforts given to our personal associations.

Just like any extensive time spent with a person, extended time spent with the Air Force will mean a series of good times and not-so-good times. There will be times when you’ll wonder why you’re in this relationship, and there will be times when you can’t imagine yourself without the Air Force. Like all other relationships, the Air Force will give and take. A few of the great opportunities you have in the Air Force that you may not find in civilian companies include: the sense of being part of an organization bigger than yourself, travel, fair promotion opportunities, competitive pay and benefits, protection from unfair work practices, and other quality of life options for you and your family. Just like in other relationships, in order to have the great things you must make some sacrifices. Throughout your career, you will be afforded the opportunity to work long hours, take multiple deployments, go on remote assignments, and be exposed to harsh work environments. It’s going to mean understanding your time in the Air Force as a process of give and take, just like you do in any successful relationship.

When you think about the key components in a successful long term relationship you’ll find it requires strength of character, putting the other person’s needs before yours, and a predominant desire for exceptionalism that makes you unique to a person. Does any of that sound familiar? It should. It basically means integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all you do. When you swore your oath of allegiance to enter the Air Force you essentially changed your relationship status to reflect a committed relationship to the Air Force and these are the requirements of that relationship.

As we move forward through challenges and endeavors, work on and treat your career as you would a relationship with a friend or loved one. Some days it will seem like you are facing the most difficult times of your life, and other times you will feel like you are truly living the best days of your life. At the end of a career whether it is four or thirty years, I hope your relationship with the Air Force is a positive one that improved your life and you as a person. Thank you, for what you do every day.

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!