I am looking for someone to take my place. My time in this uniform is running
relatively short and, all too soon, I will change direction and venture down a
It is not my position or even my rank that needs to be filled. It is far more basic than that. You see, this is my Air Force and I need someone to stand in for me when I leave.
I need to make sure that there will be someone who recognizes that this uniform makes them a part of something bigger than themselves, who will wear it with the discipline and pride, honoring our heritage, and represent our country.
I need to know someone will be there to stand retreat in the hot sun, the driving rain or the deepest snow without giving thought to their comfort as they watch those threads of sacrifice wave in the evening breeze.
Above all, I need someone who recognizes the Air Force is not something they do, but rather the core of who they are ― someone with values that are inescapable and unwavering courage.
I am looking for leadership that refuses to lord itself over anyone, but exists to serve superior and subordinate alike, always with the good of my Air Force at the forefront of every decision.
I am looking for the absence of self-seeking career focus that compromises integrity in return for position or authority, someone who has learned that integrity, service and excellence are not actions, but a state of being.
I am looking for someone who is accountable, yet is not afraid to make decisions even though they might fail ― someone who can regroup after a mistake and press on. I am looking for someone who is not afraid to venture out into the unknown.
I realize this is a lot to ask, a burden that is almost unbearable. No one is perfect after all, and I have faltered as much as any. I didn’t even make myself a part of the Air Force for the first four years after I joined, and it didn’t become mine until quite a few years after that.
Yes, it’s mine. It has become a part of me like my arms and legs. It is the mission that doesn’t stop whether I am in civilian clothes or ABUs, at work or at home. It is the family that I say goodbye to at one base and hello to at my next.
Who will stand up, then? If you strive for those things listed above, maybe it is you. Maybe you will stand in my place and one day step aside for another.
After all, I am only standing in the place of an Airman who came before me. It was important to him to make sure the things that set us apart as the greatest Air Force in the world were passed on. Soon, too soon, it will be my turn.