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NEWS | Sept. 3, 2013

Last C-17 Brings Everyone Together

By Lt. Col. Tracey Smith 437th Maintenance Squadron commander

We are only a week away from the final C-17 Globemaster III delivery. It's been more than 20 years since Charleston received the first operational C-17 back in 2003 and in one week, we will have the honor of celebrating the final Globemaster III produced for the defense of our nation. The ceremony will be one for the record books as we highlight the successes we've achieved with a strategic aircraft that has only known times of war. However, the amazing feats the C-17 has accomplished are due to the incredible individuals that have supported, maintained and operated it these past 20 years.
Just as the C-17 has many systems and components that work together to enable it to fly, Team Charleston is made up of many individuals that make us successful. From active- duty Airmen to our Reserve counterparts, our dedicated civilian force and our families at home, we all have unique strengths and abilities that are integral to the success of our mission. I'm not talking about the differences between career fields but the unique aspects of each person's character and personality. How we think, see the world, process information, means no person sees things exactly like any another person.
Can you imagine what it would be like if everyone was just like you? It may sound great for a moment but if you think about it, where would you get new ideas from? How would you learn about different cultures and backgrounds? Who would you have the "is it called a coke, soda or pop" discussion with? (By the way, the correct answer is pop). These, and many other examples are why working with other people who have different strengths is a great thing. Sure there are challenges to working with people different than us. It takes work on our part to understand where the other person is coming from so we can see their perspective. We won't always agree either but it's the process of seeking to understand that can open our eyes to that new perspective. And, when we do that, the possibilities of finding better solutions grows exponentially.
We are working in challenging times. It is more important now than ever to learn about the people we work with. The better we understand how everyone fits into the Air Force family, the better we'll be able to find solutions to the challenges we have yet to face. It is the responsibility of every Airman to understand and appreciate what all of our teammates do and why their personalities and perspectives make us better.
So as we gather as one body on September 12, 2013, to celebrate this final C-17 delivery, take a moment to look around at the individuals surrounding you. Recognize their uniqueness and that they offer something special to our Air Force. Let's celebrate the fact that each of us brings something different to the table and that's what makes us the greatest Air Force in the world!