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Safety: don’t take it for granted

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- As I reflect on next month's year of leadership theme, I'm reminded of my first assignment. I was at the base lake for a squadron function. My buddy asked me to be his partner in a two-man boat race. I said OK. As I got into the boat, I noticed two life jackets; one was in good condition, one was not. Since I couldn't swim and my buddy could, I reached for the good one, but he grabbed it. I don't remember what I said to him, but somehow I ended up with the raggedy life jacket.

Now, I should have got out of the boat, but I didn't. I started thinking "it's a quick race, the water is calm, it will be alright." And it was, until my buddy started acting like a nut. I told him to sit his crazy behind down and some other things I can't repeat. He got mad; I didn't care. Let's just say that was the end of my water activities for the day. As I enjoyed the rest of the afternoon on land, I thought to myself "Why did I stay in the boat?" Maybe it was peer pressure. Maybe I temporarily lost my senses - I don't know. When that boat started rocking, my senses quickly came back.

Oftentimes peer pressure, thinking we're invincible, or temporarily losing our senses for whatever reason, causes us to do things we normally wouldn't do. With the 101 Critical Days of Summer fast approaching, please use good judgment when participating in high risk activities. The majority of Air Force fatalities thus far this year involved private motor vehicles. Perhaps these fatalities could have been avoided if people did the things they can control like wearing seatbelts, driving sober, or using hands-free cell phone devices. Every member of the 45th Space Wing team is important and contributes to the security of our Nation.

So as you reflect on your plans this summer, please be safe. A wise old lady once told me, "Baby, you only go around once in life, so why don't you do things right." That was my granny... she was right. We should never get tired of doing the right thing. So buckle up, don't drink and drive, and use good judgment - don't take your safety for granted.