Am I worthy?

  • Published
  • By Maj. Michael Navicky
  • 20th Reconnaissance Squadron Director of Operations
Did you ever have a grandparent, parent or an old chief tell you how easy you have it? The old adage, "When I was your age I walked to school barefoot in the snow, uphill, both ways."

While this is a slight exaggeration it does make me think about the Airmen who have come before me and the burdens they've had to endure. It makes me wonder if I am too soft, do I expect too much; am I worthy to walk in their footsteps?

In 1927 Cadet Curtis LeMay's desire to fly was strong. Despite seeing Army Air Corp officers sleep under the wing of their planes during temporary duty, the conditions didn't matter...he wanted to fly. Second Lt. Louie Zamperini's B-24 crashed in the Pacific Ocean in 1943; he spent 47 days in a life raft and more than two years in a Japanese prison camp. Capt. Steve Bennett posthumously received the Medal of Honor in 1972 for his heroic actions in Vietnam. Bennett knew he was unlikely to survive ditching his aircraft, yet he decided to ditch his OV-10 in the Gulf of Tonkin to save the life of his Marine spotter.

It is fortunate that few of us will have to make the choice to sleep under our aircraft, spend 47 days in a two man life raft or make a deliberate decision to give our own life to save another's, but the question remains, am I worthy? The answer is this, I don't know.

What I do know is that I can live my life everyday in a way that honors their sacrifice and service.

There is more than one guide to living an honorable life but one we are all familiar with is our Air Force Core Values. Integrity First, Service before Self and Excellence in all We Do.

Integrity First: Be honest with everyone around you and yourself. I am quoting the professional development guide, "integrity is an ethical value, and happiness is not."

As Airmen, we need to be ready to make decisions that best suit our country, our service and our mission; sometimes we accept additional burden with our decisions. Those burdens can be the stress of giving your supervisor honest feedback, holding your peers accountable or giving a subordinate areas for improvement. If you make a mistake, fess up not lie to cover it up.

Service Before Self: Live a life dedicated to service. As Airmen, service to our country is a given; shift work, long hours and deployments are part of the job. Don't forget to serve your community, it made a positive difference in my day when I ran into a young Airman serving as a Big Brother. Just think about the impact he had on his little brother. Local organizations turn a small amount of your time into huge gains. Find an organization you believe in and make a difference. Most importantly serve your friends and family, single or married we all have friends and family.

Our friends and family share the military life and they truly are our source of strength. Remind them regularly through word and deed that their service is equally as important as yours.

Excellence In All We Do: Be excellent at what you do. There is not a single Airman on this base that isn't critical to the Air Force mission. As a previous C-17 Globemaster III pilot, I took off with confidence that maintenance provided a fully mission capable jet as promised. I pushed through the 24 hour mission because my box lunch was truly packed with pride. I was well rested because lodging was top notch and I slept well because I knew defenders were at the gate. There are too many jobs to list them all, but know whatever part you play, you are critical to mission success and excellence is the only acceptable standard.

So next time you hear the Star Spangled Banner at 5 p.m. or Taps at 9 p.m., don't rush into a building, wait in the doorway or run outside, instead pay your proper military respects. While you are proudly standing at attention think about those that came before us and ask, "did I live today in a way that honored the Airmen that have served before me, am I worthy?"