Chief's Corner - September
By Command Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Cecil, 130th Airlift Wing
/ Published September 17, 2017
CHARLESTON, W.Va. --
Hello, and thanks so much for taking a minute to read this month’s Chief’s Corner article! We are going to be rotating writing this article amongst the 130th Chiefs starting this month. I would like to kick it off with a discussion about accountability. I wish to do so because it is at the heart of everything we do as individuals and Airmen every day. I have come to believe that our level of success depends directly on how we hold ourselves personally accountable.
The online definition I found for the word is “An obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.” Seems pretty simple right? In the military we are disciplined from the moment we step off the bus at basic training to meet standards that seem unrealistic to the general public. Learning our military history, customs and courtesies, and drill and ceremony teaches us that we are held to strict standards. These standards are unique to the military and we have to hold ourselves accountable to meet them. If we fail to do this we are also taught that our peers and superiors will not hesitate to remind us of those standards. Remember how silly having to fold or roll clothing seemed?
Reporting statements? Everything was done by a process and graded on a severe scale. It was by design and meant to evaluate your ability to pay strict attention to simple detail, while under pressure. All of the individual standards tie into the accountability we have to our fellow Airmen. If we don’t hold ourselves and each other accountable then we create an environment where failure to enforce standards in small things grow into larger problems. The best discipline is self-discipline, in things great and small. When you tie it to the Air Force Core Values you can think of it like this. Integrity First, meaning do you hold yourself accountable to tell the truth and do the right thing even when no one is looking? Service Before Self, meaning do you put the mission above your personal desires? Excellence In All We Do, meaning to be passionate about continuous improvement. Are you passionate about your place in the Air National Guard? Are you dedicated to improving both yourself as an Airman and the unit? It’s very obvious when an Airman is. It’s also obvious when they are not.
The gentleman who founded the West Virginia Air National Guard and served as its first commander is Brig. Gen. J. Kemp McLaughlin. The 130th AW’s base is named after him. Gen. McLaughlin served as a B-17 pilot during World War II in the mighty Eighth Air Force flying daylight bombing missions over Germany. The commitment and personal accountability required to climb back into those bombers repeatedly is hard to imagine. Airmen on those missions were initially only escorted to a certain point by fighters before they had to turn back for fuel. This left the bombers prone to German fighter attacks and thousands of Army Air Corp Airmen lost their lives or were shot down and captured.
These Airmen epitomized all of the character of our current or Core Values. Their level of personal accountability to the country they served and to the oath they swore are the foundation of what our Air Force and Air National Guard is today. Our roots at the 130th AW and the WVANG over all go back to a true hero. Gen. McLaughlin wrote a book about his experiences in the war titled “The mighty Eighth in WWII.” I highly encourage our Airmen to read it and can promise that it is extremely well written and not just a “dry” history book.
Self-examination and dedication to continuous improvement are foundational to success in life. Do you check yourself regularly and evaluate your commitment? Do you hold yourself accountable to what the standard is and not what the rest of the “crowd” is doing? Do you welcome a fellow Wingman correcting you when needed? Our service gives us clear expectations on what we should do to meet and hopefully exceed these standards. Personal accountability is apparent in an Airman no matter what their job may be, if they are dedicated to it. I am so proud to be a member of this wing and serve with all of you! I see examples of accountability on display every day demonstrated in the missions performed at home and all around the world. The pride is evident and well deserved.
Please let me know what you think. Share your thoughts with leadership about how we can all work together to make it a little better as we pass it along to the next generation of Airmen. Thanks for all you do!