Celebrating our Air Force culture

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- I love sports and seeing people succeed in sports. I enjoyed running track during my formative years in high school and two of my events were the 400 meter and 800 meter relay team races. In the relay races four runners comprise a team. I anchored both teams and the goal was to pass a baton from team member to team member without dropping the baton, staying in the assigned lane and crossing the finish line. The anticipation and excitement to see my teammates from start to handoff then to me was awesome. We had a culture of success through practice and hard work. In comparison, our great Air Force is the youngest of the military services as we came into existence in September 1947. As we grew through the years our culture of hard work and practice has led us to become the most powerful Air Force in the world.

This is the way I see our Air Force today; our culture is primed to continue to produce mission success, lead people, manage resources and improve unit morale. As an Air Force we execute best when we work as a team.

As a commissioned officer, my professional military education, officer professional development and mentoring sessions with senior leaders have molded me to become the leader I am today. As a prior enlisted Airman, I recall the importance placed on the chain-of-command and always communicating and working issues with my direct supervisor. However, at the time I was not able to conceptualize how I really fit into the Air Force.

Today, no matter whether you are a new Airman just out of basic training, a new noncommissioned officer, a seasoned senior noncommissioned officer, a new lieutenant, a mighty civilian or seasoned officer, we all should know where we fit in. I am proud to say that we, as an Air Force, can celebrate our culture. I can, with certainty, say we have the "big three" that defines our culture and how we all fit in to it.

In May of 1995 under former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Ronald Fogleman we received our Core Values: Integrity First, Service before Self and Excellence in all we do. The next big cultural move, under former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley, was given to us in April 2007, our Airman's Creed which has rallied us as a team and is applicable to all Airmen. The final of the "big three" is our Comprehensive Airman Fitness officially given to us as an Air Force in March 2011 under former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. CAF puts into play a lifestyle and defines how we stay healthy to accomplish our mission. CAF has given us four pillars of fitness: Physical, mental, social and spiritual.

Each of us collectively has a duty to know our culture and how we fit into the Air Force way of life. We will continue down the path of being the most powerful Air Force in the world and it will be the "big three" that drives our success.

This is our culture; let's celebrate it! I will never falter and I will not fail!