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February Shirt Blast

Portrait of U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Carl Clegg, first sergeant for the 169th Mission Support Group at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina, October 6, 2019.

Portrait of U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Carl Clegg, first sergeant for the 169th Mission Support Group at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina, October 6, 2019. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder, 169th Fighter Wing/Public Affairs)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

“I will never leave an Airman behind.” That’s a lofty goal, isn’t it? We’ve all said it many times at basic training or school or just in our minds. We’d like to think that if faced with a terrible situation, we’d rise to the occasion, vanquish the foe and save our wingman. There’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all except, many of us are hopelessly unprepared. We’d hardly be able to save ourselves much less our wingman.

So, there it is; take a good look in the mirror. You are the Airman who is left behind. You left YOU behind. You didn’t train for your PT test. You didn’t do your CDCs. You didn’t work toward your CCAF. You didn’t (fill in the blank) ­­­­­­__________. But you are not alone. Your fellow Airmen, myself included, fail sometimes to do the things we are supposed to do—when we are supposed to do them.

You’ve said this too: “I am faithful to a proud heritage, a tradition of honor and a legacy of valor.” Webster’s dictionary defines valor simply as “personal bravery.” How do we expect to tear down the gates of hell in battle when we can’t muster the strength to crack the doors of the gym or crack open our CDCs? Winston Churchill once said, “The price of greatness is responsibility.”

Col. Akshai Gandhi, commander of the 169th Fighter Wing, calls 2020 “The Year of Personal Responsibility.” Believe it or not, the commander has probably seen your name on a list of “have nots.” These are lists of people who have not filed their DTS, have not turned in their dental forms, have not passed their CDCs and a host of other seemingly minor things. But we as Swamp Foxes are responsible to accomplish these things on time and often put undue strain on others when we don’t.

Imagine coming to drill without your boots bloused. That’s impossible, right? Why? Because it is our personal responsibility to wear our uniform correctly. The same is true for everything else we are required to do as Airmen. Imagine if it was as obvious as un-bloused boots that we hadn’t accomplished a required task like getting immunizations.

Occasionally there are mitigating factors, but those should be the exception, not the rule. Especially with PT tests, I know some Airmen are fighting physical battles and we are here to help you fight through them. But while that’s going on, we still have a personal responsibility to get documentation to medical on time. Don’t be that person who always has an excuse. You’re better than that; you’re a Swamp Fox.  

It’s human to want to blame someone else for our failures, but in most cases, our failures and our successes are our own responsibility. Failure rarely travels alone; he often brings his buddy ‘consequences’ along for the ride. Don’t let yourself get passed over for favorable action because you failed to act. Because then, YOU are the Airman that YOU left behind.

Maybe I’m just a wide-eyed optimist, but I see being an Airman as a gift from God, just like my family and my health. Every day, I make a choice to take responsibility for my actions and when I fall, I get up and get after it again. You can do the same. I’m counting on you and the Swamp Fox is counting on you.