The Mechanic's Creed -- Not just for mechanics

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Brian Kruzelnick
  • 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Aircraft Maintenance Unit superintendent
"Upon my honor I swear -- In discharging this trust -- I realize the grave responsibility which is mine."

These three phrases open the Mechanic's Creed, written by Jerome F. Lederer, an aviation safety pioneer and founder of the Flight Safety Foundation. His entire career was built around strong ethical principles and renowned mechanical skill.

This was validated in 1927, when Charles Lindbergh asked the only mechanic he trusted, Mr. Lederer, to inspect the Spirit of St. Louis aircraft before he embarked on the historical 3,600 statute mile Trans-Atlantic Flight from New York to France.

Mr. Lederer worked tirelessly, stressing the importance of maintenance practices, applying his ingenuity and knowledge to raise the safety bar throughout the aviation community. As A result he went from being a safety consultant for the 2nd Air Force in the early 1940s, to spearheading the utilization of the flight data recorder and aircraft anti-collision lights through the Flight Safety Foundation.

The creed Mr. Lederer authored contains three progressive paragraphs, each building upon the next to form a solid foundation with responsibility, integrity and standards as the keystones.

When I was a young airman at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Staff Sgt. Mark Bell, my supervisor, made me read this 230-word creed. He wanted me to understand the monumental responsibility that I exercised each and every time I stepped onto the flightline to touch an aircraft.

Years later, I became an NCO at McConnell, where I faced a 20 foot "Maintenance Man" painted on the wall next to the Mechanic's Creed. This mural was cleverly positioned adjacent to the area where maintainers signed out their required tools each day. The purpose was to solidify a positive maintenance culture and attitude before traveling to the flightline. Written in 1941, the creed echoes through the halls of every maintenance complex.

It's called the Mechanic's Creed, but it can be applied to multiple professions because any airman wearing the uniform is a military professional in his or her assigned career field. Each paragraph of this creed can be broken down into one simple word answer that can be applied any to any profession. For example, the first paragraph of this creed states:
"Upon my honor I swear that I shall hold in sacred trust the rights and privileges conferred upon me as a certified aircraft mechanic. Knowing full well that the safety and lives of others are dependent upon my skill and judgment. I shall never knowingly subject others to risks which I would not be willing to assume for myself, or those dear to me."

This can be summed up by one word, responsibility. Airmen are bestowed this responsibility by the United States Air Force. No other work force in the world depends so greatly on individuals to be this proficient, mature and skilled. because people's lives rely on our ability to perform safely and correctly. At the same time, there needs to be a realization that deviations can lead to catastrophic effects to the mission, organization and personnel.

The next paragraph further builds upon this concept:

"In discharging this trust, I pledge myself never to undertake work or approve work which I feel to be beyond the limits of my knowledge, nor shall I allow any non-qualified superior to persuade me to approve aircraft or equipment as airworthy against my better judgment, nor shall I permit my judgment to be influenced by money or other personal gain, nor shall I pass as airworthy, aircraft or equipment about which I am in doubt, either as a result of direct inspection or uncertainty regarding the ability of others who have worked on it to accomplish their work satisfactory."

The theme of this paragraph is integrity. The most vital "lesson learned" a professional can comprehend is their limitations at performing a task. No matter how difficult it is to say "I'm not qualified," personal limitations must be acknowledged and accepted. If no one speaks up at these critical times, the result could lead to loss of life. Airmen should never approve a task if they are unsure whether it is correct, and never approve a task that hasn't been verified to be acceptable.

The last paragraph holds the final keystone to the foundation:

"I realize the grave responsibility which is mine as a certified Airman, to exercise my judgment on the airworthiness of aircraft and equipment. I therefore, pledge unyielding adherence to these precepts for the advancement of aviation and for the dignity of my vocation."

The ethos of this paragraph is standards. In every military profession, there are instructions that govern the accomplishment of work. Most instructions have adapted to changes in technology, increased safety or innovation. Nevertheless, these instructions are essential to accomplishing a task safely, smartly and correctly. If Airmen deviate from the standard, they not only tarnish the sanctity of their profession, they present an increased likelihood of endangering themselves, the equipment and everyone around them.

Mr. Lederer wrote the Mechanic's Creed to stress the importance of responsibility integrity and standards to every professional. Although authored over 69 years ago, the foundation stands strong. It may be called the Mechanic's Creed, but it can easily be applied to any military profession.

No matter where your office is housed or what task you accomplish, these words translate into every military work center.