An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | May 21, 2009

The impact of an outstanding air show

By Lt. Col. Peter Doty 316th Operations Support Squadron commander

Congratulations Team Andrews! This weekend we completed another successful Joint Service Open House. Although the attendance numbers are not yet official, I estimate the crowds exceeded the 100,000 mark set last year. Great job Team!

During this weekend, we thanked the public for the support they show the armed forces, as well as showcased our Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers, and Marines, and the equipment they employ. I asked several families, as they waited to board the bus to the METRO, how they liked the show. Each time the immediate response was wide smiles and exclamations of, "Awesome!" or, "It was great!" I think this is firm evidence that our thank you was well received.

Key to JSOH: we hosted several of the official demonstration teams for the U.S. armed forces - namely the Air Force Thunderbirds and the Army Golden Knights. These elite performers are often introduced as ambassadors of the services and the U.S. military when they perform around the globe. Their precision and professionalism introduce many to how our armed forces embody the attributes of excellence and service.

These teams are not alone in the ambassadorial role. JSOH also hosted numerous other military demonstration teams and static displays of our combat power. These demonstrators introduced the public to our aircraft, vehicles, weapons, communications equipment and medical capabilities. They answered questions, posed for pictures, and even signed a few autographs.

I would argue that our most effective ambassadors this weekend were the hundreds of Active Duty, Reserve and Guard members who worked details or volunteer positions. They stood at security posts, escorted buses, helped lost children find their parents, cared for those in medical distress, and a thousand other roles. Despite heat, humidity, cold, wind, and rain, they displayed the courteous service synonymous with the Andrews Way.

A recruiter told me it takes, on average, 10 exposures to the military before a potential recruit begins to understand the military and their future role within it. Most who attended this weekend aren't potential recruits, but all saw more than 10 different aspects of the military during their visit. Hopefully, each left with a greater understanding and respect for what our military services do for our nation.

For those who rarely interact with military members, this will greatly affect their lasting impression of the U.S. military. They'll remember the technology and power of our equipment. They'll remember our coordinated actions that make such a complex event possible. I expect their most lasting impression will be the professionalism of the Airman, Sailors, Soldiers and Marines they met this weekend.

For those who interact with us more regularly, we'll need to maintain the good impressions we made this weekend. These people may be our customers, neighbors, fellow service members or retirees. At our normal duty stations we do well to maintain these standards as represented by the Andrews' Way attitudes. Just don't let it stop there.

Remember that the impression - good or bad - you make on any particular day can be just as lasting as the impressions made during the open house. This impression could come through customs and courtesies as addressed in previous From the Top articles. It could be from our behavior, language, or appearance in uniform (including perceived level of physical fitness). In fact, you need not be on-duty or in uniform. Our civilian neighbors invariably recognize we're military members based our haircuts, military lingo, or vehicle decals, and will adjust their perceptions of the military based on our actions when not in uniform. In this regard, there is no off-duty time in our role as ambassadors.

Remember that due to our location in the nation's capital, our impact as ambassadors can be greatly amplified. It's obvious to us when interacting with the President, Congress or other members of our government or foreign countries. What we may forget is that this region is full of people that influence the perceptions of those decision makers - staffers, lobbyists, members of other government agencies ... the list goes on and on. When it is so imperative that our government work as a team, we must make sure those we work with have respect for us.

So pat yourself on the back Team Andrews. JSOH 2009 was a great success. Just remember, you didn't stop being an ambassador for the U.S. military when you went home Sunday night. It continues every day.