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Chief's Concerns

Portrait of Chief Master Sgt Deborah Marshall, Chief of the 169th Force Support Squadron.

(SCANG Photo by:  Senior Master Sgt Edward Snyder, 21 June 2011 - RELEASED)

Portrait of Chief Master Sgt Deborah Marshall, Chief of the 169th Force Support Squadron. (SCANG Photo by: Senior Master Sgt Edward Snyder, 21 June 2011 - RELEASED)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- Why do you serve? Technology, lessons learned and empowerment have changed the way we protect our nation and homes, but the patriotic duty to serve is instilled in us as Americans. Since 9/11, it seems we have had a constant flow of deploying, training and working toward this duty. Maybe you don't recognize it in yourself, but you are serving and that patriotic duty is there.

I am inspired by the core value "service before self." What a powerful phrase. Our history is filled with individuals who sacrificed for our nation. I picked up a local free newspaper to kill time while waiting for an appointment and was inspired to the point of tears. It's the story of a local, 24-year-old man who wrote his own creed and moved the nation in World War II.

"South Carolinian William Farrow, one of the three Tokyo Raiders executed by the Japanese military, had been a USC civil engineering student only a few short years before his untimely death. Farrow left behind a personal creed that could be taken up by any one of us. In the fall 1939, he was selected by the Civil Aeronautics Authority for air training at Owens Airport. He interrupted his studies to enlist at Ft. Jackson with the Army-Air Corps and was commissioned a second lieutenant in July 1941. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, only months later, plunged America into a war the nation had been determined to sit out. The 16th B-25 he piloted was not supposed to be included in the Raiders' surprise attack on Japanese industrial sites; his plane was supposed to be held in reserve. At the last minute Doolittle made the decision to use every plane available. Launched from the deck of the USS Hornet prematurely with a greater distance from the target and inadequate fuel, eight Airmen from two planes were captured after a successful bombing raid. Farrow and two other Airmen were executed. He wrote letters home comforting his family, even when he knew he would soon die. After his execution, his Mother found his creed. Of the tenets, this one has been pulled out and repeated most often: "Fear not for the future--build on each day as though the future for me is a certainty. If I die tomorrow, that is too bad, but I will have done today's work. President Roosevelt named it an American Creed for Victory." The Columbia Star (5/25/12).

As leaders, we have the responsibility to mentor our young Airmen in making them better professionals with a strong desire to serve our country honorably. I challenge our leaders, our supervisors and all of us to take a moment and consider the basic tenant of "service before self" and how it applies to you.

On a personal note, I will be retiring soon and wish to tell my friends, mentors and leadership (current and retired), thanks for the ride. It has been a wonderful 34+ years' career that would not have been possible without you. You have been my inspiration with your "service before self," and I thank you.