Halloween core values

by Col. Ray Briggs
86th Maintenance Group commander

It was three nights before Halloween, and Staff Sgt. Randy Brown was sleeping. He was dreaming of his upcoming trip to Frankfurt airport with his fiancee, Susan, from the 86th Force Support Squadron. They were about to fly to the U.S. to get married.

In his dream, a traffic jam had forced them off of the autobahn and onto a lonely stretch of highway near Frankenstein Castle outside of Darmstadt. The locals know strange things still happen around the woods near Frankenstein Castle. Locals tell a 150-year-old story about a mad woodsman who used his ax to do unspeakable things. The ghost of the mad woodsman is said to still haunt the woods near Frankenstein Castle today.

It was raining and already dark, but Randy was only thinking of Susan and getting to the airport. Susan was uncomfortable with Randy’s driving on the winding road in the rain. She asked where they were. Sensing her unease, Randy decided it would be better to not tell her about Frankenstein Castle and the local legend of the area, so he made up a story about a fairytale from outside Darmstadt. He slowed as he passed a disabled vehicle, pretending to see if they needed assistance; he had no real intention of stopping as all he could think of was getting to the airport. Randy was now concentrating on the GPS as it recalculated for the um-teenth time, hoping it would get them rerouted back to the autobahn and on the way to Frankfurt.


As he looked up, he saw a shadowy figure with an ax standing in the middle of the road. He swerved, losing control of the vehicle and slid down an embankment. The car was not damaged and no one was hurt, but it was stuck in the mud.

Randy and Susan looked up to see the shadowy, ax-wielding figure standing in front of them. As the ax came thundering down into the car, Randy awoke with a fright. He couldn’t help but think, “If only I had practiced integrity first and told the truth about where we were, this would not have happened.”

The next night, Randy was again dreaming of his drive to the Frankfurt airport. Just as before, it was raining, dark and traffic had pushed them off of the autobahn onto the back roads near Frankenstein Castle.

As the GPS recalculated, Susan asked about where they were in her uneasy manner. This time, Randy knew he should tell her the truth. He told her about Frankenstein Castle and the legend of the mad woodsman.

It didn’t make Susan feel any better, but he knew he had told the truth. He slowed as he passed the disabled vehicle, but continued on, just as he had done the night before.

Randy focused on the GPS, only to look up to see a shadowy figure with an ax standing in the middle of the road. He swerved, lost control of the vehicle and slid down the embankment. The car was undamaged and there were no injuries, but they were stuck. Randy and Susan looked up to see the ax-wielding ghost standing in front of them.

As his ax came crashing down onto the car, Randy was startled awake. He couldn’t help but think, “If only I had practiced service before self and assisted the disabled vehicle, this would not have happened.”

The third night, Randy was again dreaming of his drive to the Frankfurt airport. Just as before, it was raining, dark and traffic had pushed them off of the autobahn onto the back roads near Frankenstein Castle. The GPS continued to recalculate, and Susan asked the uneasy question about where they were. Again, Randy told the truth about the castle and the legend of the mad woodsman.

As they approached a disabled vehicle, he stopped and rendered assistance. He helped the stranded driver place his warning triangle 100 meters from the vehicle and changed a flat tire. Randy wasn’t prepared for the evening’s rain and ended up soaking wet and cold, even though it only took 15 minutes to help the stranger. They should still be able to make it to the airport on time, if they could find their way back to the autobahn.

After getting back to his car, Randy was shivering from the cold and dripping wet. Shaking water from his brow, he looked up to see a shadowy figure with an ax standing in the middle of the road. The car swerved and slid down an embankment, undamaged and without injuries, but stuck in the mud. Driver and passenger looked up to see the shadowy, ax-wielding figure standing in front of the car.

Again, the ax came crashing down onto the car, and Randy suddenly awoke with a cold sweat. He couldn’t help but think, “If only I had practiced excellence and been prepared for the conditions of the evening, this would not have happened.”

It was time for the Randy and Susan’s drive to the Frankfurt airport, and this was no dream.

Just like his dreams the previous three nights, it was raining, dark and traffic had pushed them off of the autobahn onto the back roads near Frankenstein Castle.

The GPS continued to recalculate, but Susan was following on the map they had prepared in advance. She joked about the GPS’s inability to keep up with her. She knew they were traveling near Frankenstein Castle and asked Randy what he knew about the area. Randy told her about the legend of the mad woodsman.

As they approached a disabled vehicle, they rendered assistance.

He donned his rain gear and gloves, pulling a poncho hat over his head. He helped the stranded driver place his warning triangle and changed a flat tire. It only took 15 minutes, and because he had planned for extra time on his drive, they still had plenty of time to make it to the airport.

After getting back to his car, Susan said how impressed she was with Randy. He was prepared for the drive, had an alternate plan to deal with traffic and was a good citizen by helping the stranded driver. The two drove on, staying alert, minding their speed, and working as a team. They passed a shadowy figure who appeared to be holding an ax, which made Susan gasp.

As Randy stayed focused on the road, they drove by the figure and realized that it was just a scarecrow decoration put out for Halloween.

The bend on the road and unusual lighting made it appear to be in the road. As they returned to the autobahn and continued to Frankfurt airport, both Randy and Susan knew the importance of living the core values of integrity, service and excellence. They had no doubt that it was going to be great wedding.