...Proud to be part of Guard
By Staff Sgt. Fabricio Ochoa, 104 FW/Civil Engineering, 104th Fighter Wing
/ Published December 03, 2011
Barnes Air National Guard Base, 104 Fighter Wing - Westfield, Mass -- As I packed my blues in my suit case a day before taking a flight down to Baltimore to attend the Joint Senior Leadership conference, my wife asked me "what is this conference about again...?" my answer was "well, there are going to be a bunch of hot shots talking about Air Force stuff..." Obviously, I was not really aware what this conference was truly about, I was just excited and a bit nervous because I was going to be traveling with the wing commander . To be honest, I felt a little intimidated by my companions and the idea of attending a conference surrounded by Generals, Colonels, Command Chiefs, and State Command Chiefs ( to name a few); I guess I just wanted to leave a good impression and most importantly, try to absorb as much information as possible. It wasn't until the first day of the conference that I slowly started realizing how important and indispensable this event is for the future of the National Guard. Our Future not only depends on Generals and Colonels making good decisions but it also depends on everyone's ability, to assimilate and incorporate our core values to our everyday life.
As most of us know, the current state of our economy is not the most ideal; there are multiple budget cuts that will affect everyone in our country including the military. When Gen. Craig R. McKinley, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, approached the podium he clearly emphasized the need for everyone's involvement in order to combat the possibility of major cuts while staying capable and relevant to our Nation's defense. Even an Airman basic can have a huge impact on cost saving measures and efficiency programs in the Air Force, by having the right attitude and keeping with the core values. Doing more with less is not easy; however, the time calls for it. We mustn't forget that it is important for us to be conscientious when performing our jobs as airmen, from a pencil or printing paper to an expensive piece of equipment or a government vehicle, we must avoid waste, fraud and abuse. We are required to follow standards and regulations to put out the best product while at the same time maintaining good care of our assets. As I sat in the audience, I realized that everything I do at my job and how I carry out my duties matters to the overall strategy in accomplishing our individual goals, the wing goals and ultimately the National Guard goals.
One of Gen. Martin E. Dempsey's focus points was to: "Achieve our national objectives in the current conflicts". These objectives could not be achieved without the total involvement of young airmen and junior NCOs. Here at Barnes, we have great potential all throughout the base, great people, great airmen, great family and we must continue striving for the best. Gen Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said "If one goes to work in the morning thinking about the Air Force Core Values, the product this person will put out will be an excellent one by default. When it comes to the profession of arms "Trust" is a key part for success; as airmen, we must trust each other to do our jobs to the best of our abilities. Applying excellence in all we do will increase our chances of success; as we go from squadron to squadron, from section to section across the base we can't help but notice how interrelated our jobs are, and how much we depend on each other. We must "Keep faith in our military family".
Another speaker who had a great impact on me was The Honorable Leon E. Panetta, Secretary of Defense; he highlighted his respect and appreciation for the National Guard. Men and women of the NG have proven to be an extreme respond force. According to Mr. Panetta "more than 370,000 guardsmen have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, many of them multiple times..." unfortunately about 670 have given their lives in the fight against terrorism. And here at the home front as a response to one of the most recent natural disasters, Hurricane Irene," approximately 8,000 guardsmen from 18 states were deployed with equipment pre-positioned to ensure that it was available for their use" Mr. Panetta said. This is what we do as members of the National Guard, this could be you deploying, and this could be you responding to natural disasters. This facts really show how relevant we are and how important it is for us to standby as well prepared as possible, and I see that we can only accomplish this by taking our training seriously, by applying excellence in all we do to our everyday lives during the week and during UTA weekends.
It was truly a great privilege to be chosen as the first junior NCO to accompany the wing's leadership in attending the Joint Senior Leadership Conference, an event of immense caliber. It was an eye opening experience which has given me the opportunity to evaluate myself as NCO and determine my own personal involvement and the role I choose to take on as member of National Guard and as a member of Barnes ANGB. Our Air force core values are key elements of our military lives, however, Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do, are values that we can apply even to our civilian lives. To all my fellow Junior NCOs and young Airmen, keep in mind that it is up to each one of us to take the initiative and advantage of the great opportunities we have by being part of the National Guard, by being part of The 104th Fighter Wing, we must choose and understand our roles, learn how to follow so one day you can lead. Like my Squadron Commander, LT Col Boyer, told me once "hold yourself against the highest standards and then project that image onto others". Become a leader who will make the difference.