JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C., –
We've heard talk about being a good Wingman or Shipmate and how it relates to safety. Is it "lip service" or is it valid? The answer depends upon your perspective; perspective in this case means whether or not you've experienced the death or injury of a family member, friend or co-worker due to a safety mishap.
If you've never been through the horror of losing someone close to you - whether it's on or off-duty - you might think, "This will never happen to me," or "I know my limits," or "My friends and I do everything right."
When you think this way, the concept of Wingman and Shipmate seems irrelevant. Whatever your thought process is, it's a perspective that changes instantly when something does happen to someone you care about. The perspective of a person who's lost a loved one is almost the complete opposite: "What could I have done?" is a common question as is "was everything done right?" or "did this have to happen?" Having a Wingman or Shipmate seems obvious after the fact.
Whether you are a Wingman or Shipmate, or need a Wingman or Shipmate, the responsibility is the same: never hesitate to say when enough is enough.
Being a Wingman is not a being a babysitter watching someone's every move. It's being there for that person when they need it most and when they don't need you at all.