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NEWS | Jan. 26, 2015

Don't underestimate the value of your contributions

By Major Brian Clark 437th Maintenance Squadron commander

Have you ever said to yourself, "I'm just a (insert job title here)?"  At some point in your Air Force career, I'm sure you've either thought it or actually said it out loud.  As the commander of the 437th Maintenance Squadron, I've heard it many times.  "I'm just a crew chief" or "I'm just a Precision Measurement Equipment Lab technician," so what difference can I really make or how can I be a leader?  You can even take your individual duty title out of it and say, "But I'm just an Airman, why would they want to hear what I think?"  Well, the answer is that you're WAY more than just your rank!  You're a vital part of the "Big Blue" team, and the Air Force cannot make the mission happen without YOU! 

As I sat in the movie theater watching American Sniper recently, I caught myself thinking the same thing.  In case you haven't heard, the biopic film outlines how legendary Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle saved countless lives with his pinpoint shooting accuracy and it also details his bumpy transition back to civilian life as a family man.  Chris Kyle's contributions to our nation's defense were nothing short of Herculean.  Let's be real here; most of us, OK, likely none of us will be legendary snipers.  But don't ever minimize your particular contributions!  As I kept watching the movie, I noticed two C-17s that were being boarded by redeploying Marines, and I was immediately reminded of all it takes to get the Air Force's premier airlifter in and out of some pretty austere places.  Rest assured they didn't get there on their own.  Our operators rely on so many moving pieces to come together in order to accomplish what our nation asks of us.  From finance to communications to aircraft maintenance, we ALL play a vital part in making the mission happen. 

Do you think it's an accident that the Air Force team starts with E-1 and ends at O-10? Airmen of all grades, Active Duty, Air Reserve Component, or civilian are an absolute necessity and don't ever doubt it.  We need your perspective, your technical expertise, your innovative ideas, and your leadership.

When I was a young Airman, my flight chief at Eglin Air Force Base used to routinely say that "leadership is not a rank."  He would go on to say that it's our willingness to live by our core values and told us we "could always answer the mail" if we did so.  He was spot on with that mindset, even though I may not have been a true believer the first time I heard him say it.  I thought it was way easier for a guy with seven stripes to think like that.  As I've progressed as an Airman, I can vouch for my old flight chief's wisdom.  So please humor me and let me reemphasize that you are more than just your duty title or your rank.  You're a professional Airman in the greatest Air Force this world has ever seen and we can't make it happen without YOU!