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September Shirt Blast

Portrait of  U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Steven Eplee, assigned to the 169th Civil Engineer Squadron at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., August 1, 2020. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder, 169th Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

Portrait of U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Steven Eplee, assigned to the 169th Civil Engineer Squadron at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., August 1, 2020. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder, 169th Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

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

Be prepared. We are told this from the day we first put on an Air Force uniform at basic training. We are told to be ready for promotions, physical fitness tests and deployments. Even as seasoned Airmen, our readiness is expected to be well rounded to include our mental, physical, social and spiritual realms. At some point in our careers, our level of preparation will tell on us. What will it say about you?

Today, I write to you in a unique position as the interim first sergeant for the 169th Civil Engineer Squadron. With only six months in this role, I have learned so much about being prepared. I’ve had to help out Airmen who went downrange not as prepared as they thought they were. Sometimes, things just happen and when they do, we all pitch in to help out. But Swamp Fox teamwork is no replacement for individual responsibility. One must be as prepared as possible including making medical appointments, attending required training and updating legal documents. 

Since March, I also learned that it is important to remain extremely flexible, especially in my civilian life with all the ongoing changes in our country like COVID-19. I think you would all agree with me that in early February we never imagined where we would be today. Have you gotten used to wearing masks and gloves just to go to a grocery store or seeing protests and riots dominating the news and social media? How is your 401K looking lately? Sometimes even your preparations for the future take a hit.

The Air Force has taught me to always be resilient. Being resilient to me means that when things have not gone to plan or I haven’t prepared for certain scenarios, I have the ability to adapt to new situations. I never imagined that when I was asked to serve as the interim first sergeant that it would encompass a pandemic, burning cities, closed schools and National Guard activations. But here we are rallying together pushing for change in our society and taking proper procedures to reduce the spread of a virus that has brought our country to a halt. It is in our hearts, in our units and on our base where I feel that we as Airmen can make the necessary changes needed to adapt and overcome these issues. 

And if you need help dealing with things in your world, the Swamp Fox first sergeants and I are available so you don’t have to go it alone. We can assist you through Airman and Family Readiness and many other state and federal resources.