It’s your Air Force

  • Published
  • By Maj. Bernard J. Hatch III
  • 1st Maintenance Operations Squadron commander
During our first years of service as Airmen, we are taught basic technical skills and military bearing. Then, somewhere along the line, we are presented with opportunities for leadership at the element, section, flight or squadron level.

But, don’t wait until somebody attaches a certain duty title to your name to be a leader.

There are many opportunities to demonstrate leadership at any level. Ask yourself this question: When, if at all, did you feel like you made the transition from being a cog in the wheel to being a part-owner of our Air Force? When did you start feeling like your service made a difference – like this was your Air Force to nurture, grow and improve?

That certainly takes some amount of time. The challenge is to speed your transition from simply doing a daily job to “owning” your part of the Air Force. Being an integral part of our service goes beyond just aspiring to a position where you can sign policy letters or create work shifts for your shop.

You can be a leader at any level by simply getting involved. Seek opportunities to participate in unit events and base-level clubs. Although you may not “run the show,” your involvement in these activities demonstrates leadership.

To illustrate, I will consider my involvement in high school extracurricular activities. I spent my freshman year just going to class every day and then going home. I was just a cog in the wheel. Looking back, I don’t even remember much about that lackluster year.

But, at the advice of my father, I got involved in sports and activities during my sophomore year, and what a difference that made! I ran on the cross-country and track teams, I was also in the Key Club and on the yearbook committee. For three years, I felt like I owned the place. All of a sudden, I was proud of my high school, and the teams and clubs I participated in. I became the heart and soul of that school long before I was a senior.

I have found similar experience in the Air Force. Beyond my primary “job,” I find it useful and motivational to get involved in different aspects of the organization. Whether participating in the Company Grade Officers’ Council, squadron intramural bowling team, or the Thursday night maintenance officers’ scuba diving crew, the associations and friendships I developed through extracurricular activities over the years have helped me “own” my small portion of our Air Force.

Participation in unit and base activities brings with it a tremendous sense of family and camaraderie. Whether Airmen Committed to Excellence, Logistics Officers’ Association, intramural sports or the Langley Motorcycle Riders Club sparks your interest, get out there and get involved. Break out of the cog-in-the-wheel syndrome and take advantage of the full spectrum of Air Force service. Find something to be involved in – be a positive influence – and you will find the camaraderie and sense of ownership in our service that will sustain you for a career.