Engage

T
Logo
T
Logo
T
Logo
F
Logo
T
Logo
T
Logo
T
Logo
T
Logo
F
Logo
T
Logo
T
Logo
F
Logo
F
Logo
F
Logo
F
Logo
F
Logo
F
Logo
F
Logo
F
Logo
F
Logo
F
Logo
F
Logo
F
Logo
F
Logo
F
Logo
F
Logo
F
Logo
F
Logo
F
Logo
Facebook
1,981,369
Like Us
Twitter
398,818
Follow Us
YouTube Google+ Blog RSS Instagram

Career knowledge, performance translate to relevance, respect

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNS) --

I arrived at my first duty station in November 1987 as a trained and motivated KC-135 Stratotanker maintainer. I was an expert -- or so I thought. On my first day on the job, I walked toward the expediter truck excited about the drive to the flightline. I was about to be dropped off near a multimillion dollar flying machine and I knew my crew chief would say, "This one is yours, make us proud!" Oh, how wrong I was.

"Sergeant Reality", as we will call him, stopped me before I made two steps into the truck and said, "JEEP (which I learned much later stood for Just Enough Education to Pass), your job is to sit in the seat behind me in the truck. Do not speak. Read that bookshelf full of technical orders." Sergeant Reality continued. "If the truck stops, you stand up - I might have some work for you to do. If I don't, I will tell you to sit back down, and that means read more technical orders." 

"How could this be?" I thought. I was a trained maintenance machine. The Air Force spent truckloads of money making me an expert. This pattern with "Sergeant Reality" went on for a month. The truck would stop, I would stand, and Sergeant Reality would tell me to sit down and read. On occasion, I would serve as fire guard on a refuel or hook up a maintenance stand to the back of the truck, but most of my time was spent in silence, pouring over technical orders.

One cool morning, a few hours into my reading session, the truck stopped in front of an aircraft. I stood as instructed, waiting to be directed to take my seat. The crew chief from the aircraft informed the expediter he would need help and wanted an Airman to assist him. Sergeant Reality pointed past me to who we will call "Airman Lucky.' "Airman," he stated, "get out." Sergeant Reality asked the crew chief what he needed help with. "My nose wheel tire has cord exposed and a flat spot on it, "he said. “It needs to be changed." 

Good judgment and a will to live immediately left me when I said, "Is it a 12-inch flat spot?" Sergeant Reality snapped around in his seat and screamed, "What did you say?" I replied "The technical order has a new change in it that allows a tire to have cord showing as long as the tire does not have a 12-inch flat spot." 

In a fit of rage, Sergeant Reality yelled "Give me the T.O." I handed it to him and he read the instructions. He looked at the crew chief and said "Well, does it?" The crew chief shook his head no. Sergeant Reality exclaimed, "Then the tire's not bad, the T.O. changed." 

Sergeant Reality sat back in his seat, took a large breath, and said to the crew chief "Let me introduce you to your new assistant crew chief, Airman Dock. He knows the T.O.s better than you! Get out of my truck Dock!" As I climbed out of the truck Sergeant Reality pointed at Airman Lucky and barked, "JEEP, you have a new job."

Every moment in your career will produce lessons. Although the events of my first month in the Air Force may seem harsh, they solidified in my mind what would make me successful. I needed to be relevant to the duties and positions I would hold. I needed to be respected for the knowledge and talents I brought to the fight. I needed to back those skills with performance. I needed to demonstrate that I was ready to replace someone who had moved on. Sergeant Reality brought me back down to Earth and when I was prepared to be relevant, respected and could perform in the role needed, elevated me to that position.

Sergeant Reality instilled in me the idea that we're not just working a job - we're part of a much larger picture, we're part of a professional career. As Airmen, we each have a valuable skillset we presumably worked and trained hard to learn. I've served in the Air Force for 26 years and I'm still learning - it's a never ending process. Let's all strive to perfect our skills as Airmen and ensure our abilities are commensurate with our rank and position. The U.S. is counting on us.

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.
comments powered by Disqus