'You're as good as they get'
By Brig. Gen. Susan Helms, 45th SW commander
/ Published October 23, 2008
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- This will be my last 'From the Top' as your Commander of the 45th Space Wing. Tuesday morning, I will pass the Wing flag over to General Ed Bolton with great reluctance, but I will do so knowing that he takes command of an installation that is operating at its peak.
From the youngest airman basic to the most senior officer, from the fervent Sharks to our dedicated mission tenants, from the ranks of our government military/civil servant team to the incredible scope of our contractor partners, you have all been an absolutely amazing team who has achieved greatness in the execution of an incredible mission.
Though I could fill up the Missileer discussing all the awards we won during my tenure here, I want to focus on what has made those awards possible, our people.
My theme begins with a space story. I have had my chance to fly in space (as will many of you, particularly if you are younger), and I have truly had some amazing experiences that had endless floating appeal: from learning to live without walking or sitting, to nation-building to having a view of Mother Earth that beats watching any TV show.
As time went on, it dawned on me why watching the Earth was such a fascination. Unlike the rest of our solar system, on Earth you can see the evidence of humanity. You can see the Great Wall of China, and the pyramids of Egypt. You can see the contrails of airliners and the wakes of ships. You can see America's highway system, and the astounding spread of city lights on the dark side of the earth. If you take away the evidence of humanity, though, you would have only a giant ball of water, dirt and stone.
And so it is with the Air Force - Without the people who bring the drive, creativity, sense of mission and core values to the fight, our Air Force would be a conglomerate of requirements, rules and rote actions, nothing more.
Without the commitment to attain a standard of excellence, goals have no real meaning and bring no satisfaction. Without the flavor and color of human leadership, a team is only a collection of robots. Were it not for the people within our ranks today who thrive on challenge, pride and accomplishment, the youngest Airmen who will eventually step into our shoes would miss the clear distinction between 'adequate' and 'outstanding'.
It's the diligent efforts of people, not process, that mark a legacy, and our human passion to serve and defend our nation gives us an unmatched motivation to succeed as the greatest Air Force in the world!
And I am proud to say that you have made this wing the greatest in the world! It is has been my distinct honor to serve with you and I know that General Bolton will have the same things to say about you when he assumes command. I wish you and your families the very best in the future. Go Sharks!