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Maintaining a solid foundation

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- This past month I became the owner of a home in the local area. In the process of buying my home I noticed an area on some brick work that I believed needed further inspection. I hired an independent inspector to come in and take a look at the property from top to bottom. 

The final assessment was that the area in question was nothing more than a cosmetic flaw that could be easily repaired -- the foundation was structurally sound and in excellent condition. 

The inspector did recommend that I terrace the property to ensure proper water drainage. Terracing would ensure the foundation would remain in the same strong condition for many years to come. He said I would be very happy with my purchase but owning a home meant I should be prepared to work hard to keep the structure sound. 

The same analysis can be made and applied to our military service. We recently celebrated our Air Force's 60th birthday. A foundation was laid by our predecessors with the fundamental principle of dominating and defeating our nation's adversaries. 

Great technological advances have occurred over the past 60 years yet our generation of Airmen is building upon the same fundamental foundation ... Dominate and Defeat! 

I suggest that our predecessors fundamentally "terraced" or maintained this great foundation the same as Airmen of this generation do today. I believe the following are a few important principles we can apply in order to maintain a strong foundation. 

First, take pride in ownership. I think my house is the best house on my street because I own it. If I don't believe the unit I am assigned to is the best on the installation it's likely I am a "renter" and not an "owner". 

Renters complain about what the landlord needs to do but an owner will roll up the sleeves and work on the investment to make it the best it can be. Ownership means investing effort in order to add value; renters eventually move on. 

Secondly, a solid foundation is maintained by embracing time honored traditions and military courtesies. I had the experience awhile back of meeting a young NCO as I was about to leave a building. 

He was just standing at the door with little or no purpose other than standing by the door. I reached for the door and he blurted out "the National Anthem is playing" as if my life were in peril if I walked through the door! 

I, as many of you know me, graciously asked him to join me outside. I wondered at what point in time had he decided that standing and rendering a proud salute to our nation's flag was an affliction rather than an honor. 

I know that young NCO was not taught the behavior at Lackland during basic training but has probably been retrained by some of the "renters" in his unit. 

Each of us needs to know our proud traditions and courtesies - not simply to know them as answers on a test but to embrace them as the integral links that joins us with those who have come before us and those who will follow. 

Thirdly, a solid foundation is maintained by each of us understanding that our particular Air Force Specialty Code is critical to the foundation. The majority of our jobs are support roles in nature and usually far from the glamour of the bright lights. 

A few months ago a main water line ruptured next to the Whiteman Inn. The child development center had no water and could not open due to health regulations. Nearly every unit on the installation felt the impact of this event because child care was unavailable. 

Airmen, performing in what many would consider an unglamorous job, rolled up their sleeves, hit the dirt and got the mission back on track. Each of us plays a unique role in keeping the foundation strong. 

Finally, each of us should take a step back and assess the area of the foundation we have been assigned to. Are we diligently watching over and maintaining the section of foundation that we will turn over to the next Air Force generation? 

When I am an old man (many years from now!) I am sure I will see Airmen and an Air Force with technology beyond my imagination. Technology may change the appearance of the structure but the Airmen of our great service will continue to build upon the same solid foundation laid in September 1947 ... Dominate and Defeat!