Why do you what to put your boots on?

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Nancy Bozzer
  • 350th Air Refueling Squadron
As Commander, one of the first questions I ask my Airmen is, "Why do you put on your boots every day?"

For some, family obligations, service to country, or educational opportunities tie the strings. For others it is the chance to travel the world. Whatever the reason is, the questions that need to be asked are: Do you dread doing it? Are you excited to do it? Do you feel like you have a purpose or are making a difference?

Everyone, no matter what background, will have a moment where a decision will be made that will affect their life and start them on a new path. For me, the moment was in college and the decision was between staying in school, or dropping out. The thought of leaving came about because I did not clearly see a future in the path I was on. My path was clouded and my "boots" got heavier and heavier each day as I dragged myself to class. The moment had come, and a decision had to be made. I decided to explore a different path and that path led me to join the Reserve Officers' Training Corps program.

You would think that my story would end happily ever after, but in reality, while the enjoyment of putting on my "boots" every morning returned, I really did not understand how I contributed to the overall Air Force mission. As I have grown personally and professionally over the last 17 years from experiencing the challenges of good and bad times alike, I learned how each and every one of us contributes to the greater good in this outstanding Air Force. However, the problem now was that I could not express it in words.

I had the opportunity to sit in on an 'in-brief' given by an outstanding squadron commander to one of the new pilots. He discussed normal expectations, squadron policies, and family. At the end of the interview, he left the pilot with one last thing to think about - our flag. Our flag, represents the many generations of people who put on their "boots" to sacrifice their lives. These generations fought bravely for all the freedoms we enjoy today. Even though our world continues to evolve and faces different challenges and enemies, our flag stands strong, and we should be proud to have the privilege to wear it on our shoulder everyday.

He told that young Airman, every time he wears or sees our flag, it should be a reminder of the freedoms and liberties that our fellow Americans enjoy every day, as well as his role in the greater good.

F stands for Freedom ... many generations before us and many generations after us will continue to carry our flag to ensure that we never lose that. It's our job today to preserve that freedom.

L stands for Legacy ... the squadron you represent and the Air Force, as a service branch come from a very strong legacy. It is your duty to continue to build on that legacy.

A stands for Airman ... our part in protecting this outstanding Nation lies in the Air and Space arena. We ensure force extension so other services can be successful in their role fulfilling the priorities and interests of our National Defense.

G stands for the gold fringe on the flag ... gold has to be heated to such a degree as to get rid of all the impurities. With the Air Force, as a technologically focused service, it is critical to get the gold recruits. Everything that we do as an Airman, on- and off-duty, has to be held to a "gold standard."

This framework not only reinforces my desire to put my "boots" on everyday, but makes me very proud to be part of the strength, freedom, and liberties that our flag represents to fellow Americans, and people around the world. Take a moment and ask yourself, "Why am I putting on my "boots" today?