The hard, right thing

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sergeant Joseph Mulcahy
  • 335th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
Several years ago, a U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sergeant gave a speech titled "Doing the Hard, Right Thing." His speech covered a World War II hospital burn unit filled with Airmen severely burned in combat. Many spouses of these warriors couldn't face the horrific wounds their husbands endured. Many visited only a few times, and then deserted these heroes. Living in agony, spirits broken by abandonment, many succumbed to their wounds and died.

Ellie was different. She stood by her warrior, visited him daily and encouraged him to keep fighting, one skin graft after another. She hated the burns, grieved at the pain her husband suffered, but stayed by his side the whole way. He lived to see his 95th birthday. John, the wounded Airman, swore that without Ellie he would not have survived. Ellie exemplified the highest commitment, devotion and honor. She fulfilled her vows through the "good times and the more difficult bad times." She did the "hard, right thing."

It's not always easy to fulfill our commitments and promises to do what is right, just and honorable, but our profession demands it. Whether it's wearing the uniform correctly or enforcing discipline, the greatness of our profession is our commitment to doing the right thing all the time.

During this holiday season, I join many Airmen who are deployed defending our nation across the globe. Many of us are at undisclosed locations in Southwest Asia and some are in well-known locations like Afghanistan or Kuwait. Many are consistently in the line of fire or living under austere conditions, but all took a vow and answered their nation's call.

As we launched our F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft today, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, I observed the 4th Fighter Wing's finest maintainers doing the "hard, right thing" as all Airmen are taught to do.

To make the mission happen, our Airman work long shifts, sleep in tents, eat in a make-shift dining facility, work in extreme temperatures, for-go their families for months at a time, miss holidays and birthdays, etc.

Far away from home and loved ones, they do amazing work. Their coveralls and boots stained with oil and other aircraft fluids, these warriors launch combat airpower every day.

That airpower is coming to bear on our nation's enemies and is providing top cover for American and allied troops in contact with the enemy. They do it as volunteers knowing that by doing the "hard, right thing" the mission will be executed and our nation's sacred freedoms preserved.