Will things ever be the same? Have they changed?

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Otis L. Jones, Jr.
  • 302nd Airlift Wing command chief
As I make my rounds and have had an opportunity to talk to members of the 302nd Airlift Wing there are always two prominent questions I've asked myself: What happened to
"Customs and Courtesies" and "Are we heading in the right direction?"

Growing up in a military family, I was introduced to customs and courtesies the old fashion way: I learned to respect others and appreciate the discipline that goes with that respect. Being the son of a first sergeant and Vietnam veteran, there was an expectation around how I conducted myself in his presence. Every question or command was followed by a "yes sir, no sir" or "yes ma'am, no ma'am."

And, believe me when I say there was no exception without consequences. As I grow older I have come to realize I was being taught values that he had been taught in the military.

Today's Air Force still has those values, but the approach we use to teach, learn and develop our Airmen has changed. Our force is probably one of the best educated throughout the services, which is based on the sheer number of Airmen that have higher levels of degrees. Many of our Airmen are seeking out their higher education with the stats showing that every two of three enlisted member has some college under their belt.

On top of that, it's estimated the number of Airmen in the enlisted force with an associate or bachelor's degree is a little more than 27 percent. In other words, we are smart ... and smart people ask a lot of questions.

Now let's couple the fact that the 302nd AW and 52nd Airlift Squadron are blended together to comprise a total force wing, with the benefit of both well educated and highly tenured members. We have an opportunity and a responsibility to develop an Air Force culture that meets and reflects the Core Values that we take so much pride in.

What we once took for granted as those things that were passed down from Airman to Airman have taken a twist mainly due to vanishing lines between Active Duty, Reserve and Guard. This is also coupled with the high operations tempo dedicated to the number of conflicts worldwide. We have proven by the success of our recent ORI that we are very good at what we do, and for that I congratulate you. However, let's not forget that it's everyone's responsibility to ensure that we don't lose focus on what makes us the fighting force we are today. Remember just how imperative it is we maintain an Air Force Culture that reflects our Core Values.

To do this I ask all of you to take the time to mentor one another and let's re-enforce our Air Force Culture. Use recently published Air Force Instruction 1-1 for guidance.