• Published
  • By Lt. Col. Eric Casler
  • 384th Air Refueling Squadron
As we approach the Operational Readiness Inspection, but more importantly as we approach each day, I wanted to pass on a quote and a story that makes a huge impact on how I try to approach life. Both describe a slightly different way to look at one simple word - Attitude.

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, church, and home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you ...we are in charge of our Attitudes." - Charles Swindoll

Charles Plumb, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, flew 75 combat missions in Vietnam before his plane was shot down. He ejected safely and spent six years in a communist prison camp. He now lectures about lessons acquired from his experience.

One day while Plumb and his wife were dining in a restaurant, a man approached their table and said, "You're Plumb. You flew fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down."

"How in the world did you know that?" asked Plumb.

"I packed your parachute," the man replied.

Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man shook his hand and said, "I guess it worked." Plumb assured him, "It sure did. If your chute hadn't worked, I wouldn't be here today."

Plumb couldn't sleep that night thinking about that man. Plumb said, "I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform - a Dixie Cup hat, a bib in the back, and bell bottom trousers. I wondered how many times I might have passed him and not even said 'Good morning, how are you' or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor."

Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent on a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn't know.

Plumb now asks his audience, "Who's packing your parachute?"

Each of you will take something different away from the words above. I challenge you to add that something to your tool bag and use it to influence your attitude and the attitude of those around you.