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Helping hands ensure mission success

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Returning to Whiteman following three years of service at two other bases, I have had the opportunity to reflect on what this base and it's people meant to me during my nine years here, prior to leaving in 2011.

In short, I think Whiteman represents the best of what the Air Force demands of its people. In 2002 arriving at Whiteman for the first time, my entire focus was on living up to the B-2 community expectations for me as a pilot. My job was to learn to fly the B-2, employ it to the absolute best of my ability and be ready to meet the demands of any Combatant Commander that called.

During this time I had a very narrow focus, I had missed the multitude of Airmen that made my job to be a B-2 pilot even possible.

My time away from Whiteman allowed me to recognize how much I depended on the skills and effort of my fellow Airmen who work in maintenance, fuels and supply and who prepare the jets each day.

Beyond the flight line workers, I also recognize the civil engineers making sure the lights work and hanger doors open and the comptrollers making sure the bills get paid. The list goes on and on. Without all of them, I couldn't do my job. Coming back has further opened my eyes to the whole of the Whiteman mission.

Recognizing that it takes a team to ensure mission success is critical to our Air Force today. For example, every member of our Air Force is dependent on the highest in quality medical care that the Medical Group provides.

Each Airman processes through the Force Support Squadron as they enter the base, and every unit on base depends on contracting to provide those capabilities, we as an Air Force have given up to our civilian counterparts.

I cannot acknowledge every Airman and mission here for all they do, but each and every job plays an important role in ensuring our nation's needs are met. I now also see an equivalent level of interdependency we have as Airmen.

As the military continues to shrink and budgets become tighter, it is natural to feel discouraged when the Air Force asks each of us to accomplish our mission with less people and less resources. It is during these times that we have to find a way to help our fellow Airmen and reach out a helping hand when that Airman is in need.

We are offered classes on bystander awareness and suicide prevention, but sometimes the most important thing to a fellow Airman is an offer of assistance in their time of need, regardless of what that need may be.

It may be a big project that is coming due, an EPR or OPR that could use one more review, a few extra minutes at the end of the day helping them work through a challenge or assistance with picking up a vehicle from the repair shop.

Every Airman needs assistance from a friend or fellow Airman at some point. I challenge you to ask these three questions of yourself:

1. Are you willing to help a fellow Airman when asked?

2. Do you offer your help without being asked?

3. Are you willing to ask for help when you need it? It is the helping hand we offer one another that strengthens our Whiteman team.

Every Airman has a job that is critical to getting the mission done, and it is important for everyone to recognize the other's efforts. Take the time to recognize what each other does, thank them for their effort and offer them assistance when you have the chance.

You never know when someone will return the favor of you and mission challenges of our Air Force continue to increase, it is only through the outstanding team of Active Duty, Guard, Enlisted, Office, Civilians, and Contract Airman that will ensure Whiteman AFB and the AF as a whole meets the challenges placed before us.