Service Anyone?

  • Published
  • By Maj. Hessam Wessal
  • 28th Maintenance Operation Squadron commander
Let me begin by asking what motivated you to join the United States Air Force? More importantly, what keeps you here? 

Approaching the end of my command tour at Ellsworth and preparing for my next command opportunity this summer has caused me to reflect and "soul search" about what drew me to the Air Force and what fuels my service. Sure, patriotism played its part in motivating me to serve our great nation; however, there's more to it than that. Looking back, the last 13 years supplies good memories and bad. Fortunately, the majority of experiences I recall are pleasant in nature. 

One of the most moving and rewarding experiences of my career was advising our very own Airman Leadership School class 07-1. There is something to be said about directly interphasing with our young Airmen. Frank, honest discussion in a non-retributive atmosphere reopened my eyes to why I do what I do. It centers around our core values of integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. 

Our core values are more than a collection of words. They are a way of life. They help remind us of our commitment to the nation and its' people. For example, when ALS Class 07-1 told me that at their graduation dinner they wanted me to address expectations of ALS graduates and young NCOs, I was eager to respond. What I told them doesn't just apply to professional military education graduates ... it applies to all Airmen. The following items are by no means all-inclusive, but if you're still with me, you'll get the point. You're expected to do your best, at all times, on and off duty. You are expected to do what's right even when you think no one is watching. You are expected to do what's right even though it might not be what's popular. You are expected to be professional and respectful at all times. You are expected to use and have faith in your chain of command. Please pay particular attention to this last item. A well-defined and respected chain of command is what separates us from the rest of society. Know it, follow it, and place your faith and trust in it. 

As a squadron commander, it's an awesome honor to be entrusted with America's sons and daughters. I am motivated by the fact that I work side-by-side with America's finest - ready to make the ultimate sacrifice if called to do so. If this doesn't strike a chord deep inside you, perhaps you need to momentarily step back from your duties, take a deep breath and re-evaluate why it is you chose to serve. 

Be mindful that you are part of an amazingly complex machine. Sure, with everything going on it is easy to lose sight of how your efforts impact the operation of this machine. The daily grind can be daunting at times, but mind you we are a nation at war, and your comrades in arms and the American public need you at your best. 

Let me close by stating I'm proud to serve with you and thank you for your sacrifices. By giving your best and upholding our traditions and values, you'll guarantee we remain the world's most powerful and respected Air Force.