JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
Retired Chief Master Sgt. Robert Gaylor, the fifth chief master sergeant of the Air Force (1977 - 1979) visited Joint Base Charleston, S.C., Sept. 20 and 22, 2012.
Born in 1930 in Bellevue, Iowa, and raised in the small town of Mulberry, Ind., Gaylor enlisted in the U.S. Air Force just a year after its birth in 1948. More than 65 years later, he continues to be an active, energetic part of the Air Force community.
While at JB Charleston - Air Base, the chief toured the base, ate breakfast with Airmen at the dining facility named in his honor, hosted an enlisted call at the Air Base theater and was guest speaker at both the Airmen Leadership School Graduation Sept. 20, 2012, and the Air Force Ball at the North Charleston Convention Center, North Charleston, S.C., Sept. 22, 2012.
The chief spoke of his Air Force experiences during the enlisted call, including how today's Air Force compares to the Air Force of yesterday. According to Gaylor, the differences are found in the training, technology, tribe (family) and trust; or, as he worded it: the "Four T's."
"The Air Force does an extraordinary job training Airmen," said Gaylor. "Basic training today is longer; more advanced and gets Airmen ready for the military. Training doesn't end at basic training, it continues throughout the ranks, which makes today's Air Force stronger, and with more education than ever.
"Today's Airmen received the training I was denied," said Gaylor. "I never went to Airman Leadership School and didn't attend any leadership academies until I was a senior master sergeant."
After training, the second item on Gaylor's list was technology.
"The gadgets and devices today are strapped to your waist or in your pocket, from blackberries, to strawberries, to iPods and pea-pods," Gaylor joked.
According to Gaylor, the advanced technology utilized by the Air Force is only as good as the Airmen who are trained to use it.
The third item ... tribe ... includes Airmen's families. During Gaylor's enlistment, he spent years away from his family while assigned to bases in South Korea and Thailand.
"I didn't have Skype or email when I was away from my family," said Gaylor. "And, nobody checked on my family while I was away, either. Today's Air Force has programs for family members that were never offered to me or my family . Programs such as the Airman and Family Readiness Center, Naval Fleet and Family Center and the Child Development Center are only a few examples."
Finally, Gaylor considers trust one of the most important differences that has developed during the past 65 years.
"Trust is the greatest change in the Air Force," said Gaylor. "We had full uniform inspections when I was an Airman. They didn't even trust us to know how to wear clothes! Today, you're trusted with everything because generations have built that trust. Those before you spent years building this trust and it's a responsibility we all have to continue to earn that trust and not lose it."
During the enlisted call, Gaylor also shared the story of the best advice he ever received and the unlikely source it came from.
The story began on a street corner in Laredo, Texas.
Years ago, while having a quick lunch at a burger stand before a speaking engagement, Gaylor watched in amazement as a young delivery boy grabbed a freshly prepared bag of hamburgers and began passionately running, as if he were an Olympic-class athlete, down the sidewalk with the burgers in hand. He never slowed down. A few minutes later, as Gaylor finished his lunch, he watched the boy return, still running full-speed.
"Anymore orders?" the boy asked the cook, sweating and out of breath.
"No," The cook quickly responded.
"I had to talk to (the boy)," said Gaylor. "He told me he ran the order to a drug store a few blocks away. He said he always runs orders to the customers and then runs back to the burger stand at the same quick speed, in case there were more customers ... without fail... every single time."
Gaylor wanted to know 'why' and the boy's response was simple, 'People like hot French fries.' According to Gaylor, the delivery boy had already figured out that to get ahead, he had to work hard and not settle for mediocre standards.
The 'hot fries' in Gaylor's story were a metaphor for hard work. In the story, the boy was determined to provide excellent customer service. He was so determined, that no matter how modest the labor seemed, he continued challenging himself to go above and beyond mediocrity.
"Do you deliver hot fries?" asked Gaylor, challenging the Airmen at the enlisted call. "When people receive JB Charleston's refueling service, security, medical care or civil engineering ... do they get hot fries? Or, do they get the 'same old response?'"
Gaylor added that all JB Charleston Airmen need to ensure they are serving hot fries by working hard and helping others.
"If you work hard, you won't have to pound your chest and say how great you are ... people will do that for you," said Gaylor.
Gaylor concluded by praising the Lowcountry's beautiful weather and the Airmen, Sailors and Team Charleston partners for their hard work.
"If I was putting together a team," said Gaylor. "I'd want JB Charleston on it."