• Published
  • By Lt. Col. Derek Newland
  • 266th Range Squadron commander
I sit here looking at the screen wondering what I can write in a commentary that hasn't been done over and over again.

Leadership, goals, Air Force Core Values, road ahead, focus, being a good wingman, next AEF bucket, or simply, why? Why do we do what we do?

Is it the money? Probably not. Is it the excitement of the next TDY? Unless it's your first or second one, probably not. Is it being away from your loved ones for the next four months to a year? I don't think so.

Last Friday night I attended the local high school football game. Just prior to kick off, we all stood, faced the flag, put our hand over our hearts and sang the national anthem. I glanced at the faces of other people and felt that this ritual meant something totally different to me and others wearing the uniform than it did for those who never have. We took an oath. We swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Who else has done that? Who else dares take on that responsibility? Not many.

We put the uniform on every day and do our job. What's our goal? It's simple: to fly, fight and win. It's a combined effort of thousands of Airmen around the world. We have to have adequate housing, meals, finance, personnel, medical facilities, security, communications, maintenance, intelligence, operations, weather and ranges to make it happen and succeed. If you sit back and think about it for a minute, it's amazing that many educated, talented people can work collectively to get it done. Every job here is essential for all of us to meet our goal. It can't be done without your expertise.

I've kind of been all over the map on this article. To answer the initial question as to why do we do what we do? It's pride. I was proud the day I swore in. I was proud the day I became an officer. I was proud the day I graduated from pilot training and received my wings. I was proud to be a driver of the mighty F-4G "Wild Weasel." I was proud to fly the C-130 Hercules all over the world.

In the twilight of my career though, I have never been more proud than being affiliated with the 366th Fighter Wing and being the commander of the 266th Range Squadron, Idaho Air National Guard. It's not the money, TDY's, etc, it's the fact we get to do something only a few in our country have had the privilege to do. If you have lost yours, find it. If you never had it, look for it. It's not just personal pride, but the pride of being one team to achieve the goal.

As I ready myself for civilian life, I'm excited to travel down new roads, but like many who have retired before me, I'm saddened I'll never be able to wear the uniform again. Like I tell those who worked for me getting ready to retire or separate, "be proud of the fact that you got to wear the uniform."