Why do you serve?

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Kenneth Brownell
  • 22nd Operation Support Squadron
Life is hectic for today's Airmen, even more so as we continue to wage the Global War on Terrorism. Our to-do list becomes longer and longer and keeping one's priorities straight is often a confusing task.

As a young captain, I had the privilege to work for a very wise colonel who provided me a seemingly simple tool that continues to prove effective in even the most complex of circumstances. At the time, I was the group evaluator navigator for the 6th Operations Group at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. Colonel "Rusty" Findley was the wise colonel and group commander for the 6th OG. Now Major General Findley is the Director of Strategy, Plans and Policy, at Headquarters U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. Under the glass that protected his desk were Findley's five Fs: Faith, Freedom, Family, Friends, Fun.

Faith: This is the foundation of each and every one of us. What we believe guides how we conduct our lives each and every day. The components of spiritual, emotional and physical health are vital to every Airman. One way I try to refocus is to say prayers at night with my children. They are very simple prayers, but they refocus why I serve every time.

Freedom: Once you've figured out why you were created and why you are here, we can talk about why we wear the uniform and serve in the Air Force. It is all about freedom and liberty. Remember the oath that each one of us took? "To support and defend the Constitution against all enemies." That Constitution is about "establishing justice" and "securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our prosperity." There are a number of events from promotion ceremonies, wing runs, change of commands and others where we hear the national anthem, the oath or the pledge of allegiance. Hopefully, you listen to the words or repeat them to yourself.

Family: I've been criticized in the past for not putting family first. The reason is simple. I willingly lay down my life to protect my family's freedom to worship and to self-govern. Each Airman, upon swearing the Oath of Office and donning our nation's uniform stands for these same principles that are engrained in our Constitution. We as Airmen place the protection of our faith and freedom above ourselves and yes, even our families. My daughter's choir group held a concert in Derby this past week. Two of the songs sung were "America the Beautiful" and "God Bless the USA." These are her two favorite songs. It is not an easy life for our families, but they also make sacrifices in defense of these liberties.

Friends: When I think about the number one reason I am still wearing Air Force blue today, it comes down to friends. I am honored to serve side by side with amazing Airmen and be a part of the greatest Air Force in the world. Being in the Air Force is a dream come true. My closest friends are in the Air Force. The people that represent the values I want my children to understand are in the Air Force. As a commander, I spend a great deal of time in meetings. Everyday, planes take off, and planes land, and it is all because of the great men and women at McConnell. Only 1 percent of the population of our great nation serves in our military. When I think about the friendship you provide each and every day protecting my children, I am touched by your commitment.

Fun: What we do in the United States Air Force is fun. Whether you shoot, cook, wrench, drive, fly, fuel, nurse, compute, communicate or build, what we do is fun. No, some days are not fun. They are hot, cold, wet, sandy, snowy, scary, boring or just plain hard, but what each of us does is essential to our Air Force. When your contributions are added to the cumulative effort of all the other Airmen, we are the greatest military force on planet Earth. Being a part of that is fun. If you believe preserving our liberties and freedoms is worthwhile; then, what we do is fun. When President Bush came to McConnell a few weeks ago, a great deal of work went into his trip. I guarantee if you watched the faces of the individuals in Greensburg the President touched, it was fun to make that happen for the people of Greensburg. Life is short; make it worthwhile and fun.

When the days become long, and it appears nothing is going right. The five F's: Faith, Freedom, Family, Friend and Fun help me to keep the important things my priorities. Why do you serve?