MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE --
Each of us have had the privilege of a perfect stranger -- from all walks of life, ages, races, and backgrounds -- stop what they were doing and greet us with those words. For the bulk of my time in service, though always heartfelt in my reply, “Thank you, it’s my privilege.” I always connected the sentiment aimed at any service member, I was merely the one standing before them. Recently, I realized a special pride as a guardsman and the unique service we provide that most citizens and even service members may not realize. What do I mean?
We guardsmen truly serve the nation, our communities and neighbors simultaneously. We are seamless in the execution of our federal combat missions, yet we possess the unique ability and authorization to respond to our communities and execute our domestic mission. I have been working inside the Air National Guard Crisis Action Team (CAT) for the past month working hurricane relief efforts. I can’t articulate the emotional spectrums of sadness, fear, and impotency as we watch human tragedy unfold. Amazingly, the sense of pride, pride as a guardsman, overshadowed those gloomy thoughts as I watched guardsmen from across the country, drop everything and insert themselves into the literal storm, and serve their fellow citizens. We, the ANG, are literally rescuing people from certain death, delivering food, water, supplies, and additional aid. Virtually every military specialty is applying their combat skills to these efforts – logistics, aviation, rescue, security forces, civil engineers, personnel, services, the list goes on. I would encourage us all to take immense pride in each of our roles. It was us Swamp Fox, two years ago here in South Carolina…I will never forget the S.C. Army National Guard 5-ton vehicle showing up in my neighborhood, a handful of soldiers jumped out to help my neighbors and I, still in the steady rain, lay sandbags around a levy that was ready to breach.
Obviously I’m biased, but I believe the SCANG is exceptional. We’re exceptional not because of our infinite resourcing and leading edge equipment (though we are fortunate to have excellent hardware); we’re not exceptional because our Airmen are somehow more intelligent or talented than our peers (though we are pretty smart!). We, the SCANG, are exceptional because we have built, sustained and projected a superior dedication to the MISSION. Our Airmen, Active Duty and guard, continually serve – away from family, friends and employers, to train and execute the mission. We as individual Airmen and as an organization tirelessly pursue our individual technical skills and mission elements, yet maintain sight of where we fit into the “Big Picture”. We are an inextricable part of mission success whether that be our Defenders on the fence line, aircraft maintenance, supply, communications support, piloting an F-16 or executing Air Traffic Control.
We must and do continually prioritize our time and resources to maximize the efficiency of our training time and opportunities. Our nation is continually calling upon us to serve. We have and will always answer that call whether that be in combat or in domestic response – each of us is challenged to deliver the same superior mission execution the world knows as “Swamp Fox Standard!”
Because you have served, because you have smartly prioritized, because you are technically exceptional, because you are sacrificing on behalf of our nation and communities right now and I know you will tomorrow (and the day after), because you are a Swamp Fox…be proud of yourself! From me to you, with a virtual hand shake: THANK YOU AND YOUR FAMILY FOR YOUR SERVICE!