By Col. Robert T. Brooks, Jr., 104th Fighter Wing
/ Published June 05, 2010
Barnes Air National Guard Base, 104 Fighter Wing - Westfield, Mass -- On June 6, 1944...with sheer tenacity, allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, overcoming insurmountable odds as they forged forward from their initial landing sites toward countless Nazi machine gun pits that sprayed bullets down at them. As soldiers, marines, and sailors trudged forward through this rain storm of bullets and shrapnel, they did not stop, even as their friends were dying around them. They were committed, and there was no turning back. It was either take the beach heads, or perish. If it wasn't for the commitment of those veterans to reach and defeat those enemy gun batteries, D-Day certainly would not have been successful.
In today's society, the word commitment has begun to take on the feel of a negative trait; wireless plans offer talk-time without commitment, infomercials offer a chance to try-out a product without a commitment to buy. I argue that commitment is a requirement for military service, and it is essential to our success as we continue to face new challenges. In 1776, an extraordinary group of men signed a document that affirmed their God-given right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." By attaching their signatures to our great Declaration of Independence, they, in effect, were signing their potential death warrants.
Indeed, the last line of our Declaration reads, "For the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor." Many of these men, and many of their countrymen, the first generation of American Patriots, would die fighting for American liberty.
Everyone is personally driven to succeed by different things. For some it's money, others it's religion or family, and yet for some it's the pride in knowing they've done a good job. In this organization, people seem to be driven by the latter, coupled with a strong sense of patriotism. Regardless of what drives you, I insist that commitment to our vision is imperative.
During wingman day, I spoke about 5 topics that are tied back to our vision of being the most respected Fighter Wing in the combat Air Force. First, and most important, is building a culture of professional competence. We all need to be committed to being the best at what we do. Each person here provides a critical strength--together, those strengths make-up an unstoppable team. We need everyone at every level of this organization to be committed to their job, and doing it to the best of their ability; this commitment coupled with the ideals of teamwork will provide the vehicle for success.
The other topics of accountability and attitude point back to the leadership of this unit and how we are committed to holding each other accountable for our actions. With more than 600 NCO's in our unit, we should have strong leadership each and every day. Being driven and committed to being a leader every day, in both words and deeds along with a commitment of accountability at all levels, will help us to be professionally competent, thus helping us reach our goal.
Just as the allied troops demonstrated a true commitment toward reaching their objective, we too need to take the word commitment and turn it into an adjective that describes the passion in which we approach each task. I am confident in our abilities and I know we will succeed, I am proud of the hard work you've all demonstrated, and look forward to continued success in the future.