Service Before Self, the Bandits

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jeffrey Goggin
  • 349th Air Refueling Squadron commander
The Air Force core values are the foundation of our service. The values are the common thread that run throughout all members of the United States Air Force in order to produce a camaraderie that carries out successful operational missions. I'd like to take a couple of minutes to discuss the idea of service. Arguably the most important core value, but also the least talked about. Since we all "serve," I think that service is prevalent in all of the members of the U. S. Air Force.

In the 349th Air Refueling Squadron, I like to think that we live in a deep culture of service. As I already mentioned we, as Airmen, we have raised our hand and volunteered to serve. Above that, the tanker mission itself is service oriented. Our job is to deliver gas to the receiver at the right time and the right place so the receiver can carry out their mission, whether it is collecting intelligence on a high value target or destroying the enemy on the ground, sea or air. It is not just about completing our mission, it's about completing a service so that another airplane can carry out its mission.

The 349th ARS also has an incredible drive to serve the local community primarily through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Wichita. In my more than 15 years of service I have never seen a squadron with such a strong tie to a civilian nonprofit organization. The relationship goes back at least six years; each year adding to the list of events that we participate in. This year we helped raise over $10,000 with Bowl for Kids Sake, treated 27 "Littles" to Big For a Day, gave out eight Bandit scholarships for school supplies, and will host a Christmas party in December.

These accomplishments with Big Brothers Big Sisters are simply inspiring for an 86-member squadron to accomplish. [Moreover, with our pace of operations and deployments increasing , the 349th ARS has accomplished all of this with less than 25 percent of the squadron at home for the past six months. ]] The pace of deployments has been relentless since "March Madness" and our response to Operation ODYSSEY DAWN and our continuing support to Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and NEW DAWN.

Integrity first, Service before self and Excellence in all we do--these three Air Force Core Values are the cornerstone and belief system of our Airmen. They are ideas that bind Airmen together to accomplish the Air Force mission: Fly, fight and win ... in air, space and cyberspace. And I'm proud to say that they are alive and well in the 349th ARS.