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Remembering diversity

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- As we celebrated Black History Month I thought it would be fitting to address the topic of diversity.

My first roommate in the United States Air Force was a guy named Orville Glenn. Orville (aka "Hoss") was from Tullahoma, Tenn., and he prided himself on being a good ole country boy. I am from Oceanside, Calif. which couldn't be any further from the opposite end of the spectrum.

We were both Security Policemen back in 1986 and our charge was to protect the base and each other. By the end of our tour, I had Orville listening to the rapper, now actor, known as L.L Cool J, and Orville had exposed me to Hank Williams, Jr., the country singer. Our difference in approach to any given situation or response helped to ensure we covered all bases and generally led to very thorough and complete investigations. Although "Hoss" separated after his first tour, we are still brothers today.

Over my past 29 years of service I have been witness to changes in diversity that quite honestly I never thought I would see. From the complete block of gays being allowed to serve in our military, to the former 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy, and ultimately its repeal, to now dissecting and exploring new policy to allow transgender citizens to serve in our military, I can't help but wonder how far we will go with our diversity.

One thing is for certain; our Air Force tends to be the pioneers of accepting all citizens willing to put their lives on the line in defense of our great nation.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr once said, "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."

While the changes looming may be filled with uncertainty, with respect to diversity, I have full faith and confidence that our Air Force will once again get it right. I encourage you to explore the differences in your teammates. I suspect you'll be rewarded like I was with a new friend or two that don't necessarily look like you, or come from where you come from.