Riding for the brand

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. — Many of us remember watching cowboy shows and movies on TV when we were kids. They were mostly about justice and fighting for what was right, and they showed outlaws, rustlers, sheriffs and marshals.

One thing that always seemed to be in those movies were large cattle ranches and the importance of each ranch’s brand. Newly-hired cowhands would be put to work in charge of the safety and care of the herd and protecting the ranch. However, one of the major requirements of those hired hands was to be loyal to the ranch and ride for the brand.

During my time as a first sergeant, I spent several years at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, with special operators and joint terminal attack controllers. One of the most emphasized things I learned from those communities was the importance of loyalty to your subordinates, section, leadership and unit — riding for the brand.

What that meant to them was to always take care of your Airmen, even if it meant doing what was hard; to refrain from telling everyone how you did something at your last unit unless it will better the current one; to not try to move on to something bigger and better before your time; to do all you do can to make your unit better; and lastly, never embarrass yourself, your leaders or, most importantly, your unit.

All of this may seem like common sense, but it may be a wake-up call for some. Do some reflecting and ask yourself if you do all you can do for your unit. Are you one of those people that is always telling your peers how much better your last unit did something? Are you constantly looking for the next big assignment or promotion? Do you fully care for your personnel? Do you ride for your brand?

As you know, as military members, we are all a reflection of our leadership and units. Whether you like it or not, you are a part of your current unit. Sometimes it’s not the high-speed, sexy mission you have always wanted to do, but you’re here now for whatever reason, so make the best of it and ride for the brand.