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A Fresh Reminder of Why We Serve

Patrick AFB, Fla. -- It's nice to be back on the Space Coast. In case you weren't aware, Lisa and I had some things to do after our recent promotion.

We were sent to the Air Force's Senior Leadership Orientation Course, sometimes referred to as "Charm School." For those of you who know my wife, you know she didn't need the help. The real target was me.

The attendees included the new general officers from across the Air Force (active duty, reserve and guard) and our newest Senior Executive Service (SES) civilians. The course was packed full of briefings by our senior Air Force and DoD leaders, but I wanted to share one of the most memorable events.

During the second phase of training (which was without spouses), the class had the opportunity to visit Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas. At one point, we teamed up with basic trainees for lunch. Since he's still in training and we wouldn't want the military training instructors (MTIs) to read this by accident and give him extra "help" during training, we'll just call the trainee I had lunch with "A1C John Smith."

It's not too often that a trainee gets asked to sit down with an officer, let alone a general officer, so needless to say he was a bit uncomfortable at first. Once A1C Smith settled down, we chatted about how his training was going, his family, what he plans to do in the Air Force, etc. Like the vast majority of trainees, A1C Smith is dedicated and energetic. It was a joy to get to know him. What struck me was why he joined the Air Force. Not surprisingly, he shared that he's excited about "serving his country in the Air Force" and "being part of something bigger than himself."

That's refreshing for this "senior" officer. The date was June 22, 1981, when I entered basic training. Lots has changed since that time....technology in particular has changed the way we perform many tasks. However, it was a great reminder that the fundamental reason we serve hasn't changed a bit.

Thanks to A1C Smith, we can all be reminded of why we do what we do. All the best to him and his fellow trainees, they'll need it since they're only half way through basic training!