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NEWS | March 6, 2009

A Message to my Airmen: Pride Always

By Maj. Margaret O'Hara 316th Wing Public Affairs chief

Recently, I was given the opportunity to put my "universal management" badge (otherwise known as a pilot) to the test to lead a very public organization whose mission affects an entire base. Let me say, that at the least, this is an honor and a pleasure for me personally.

Working outside of one's career field is a challenge, and you are not always certain how you would be welcomed in a different community. As I have had the opportunity to meet this great group of Airmen, I am overwhelmed with the enthusiasm and work ethic displayed by everyone on the team. I learned quickly from side jokes that PA stood for not only Public Affairs, but "practically anything," and I witnessed how true "practically anything" was. I also detected a note of sarcasm with the term ... a little frustration ... a little hurt and feelings of being underappreciated.

The "practically anything" mantra haunted me for a while. The phrase really bothered me, and I could not figure out why. After a few days, it came to me. What bothered me was the fact I saw a strong group of people who were proud. I saw a group of Airmen who hacked the mission, no matter the cost. I saw a team of Airmen who drove me to work harder than I have ever worked before to help them succeed as a team and as Airmen. I saw Airmen who felt as if they were not appreciated for the work that they did.

How could I sum up what I saw within this organization? I saw unappreciated pride. Pride in their efforts, pride in their ability to do "practically anything," pride in saying we'll do our best to get the job done, no matter the cost. So then, it dawned on to me: what does PA stand for? The answer: Pride Always.

Why Pride Always? Pride Always in the job you do, despite the hours, the pressures, and the lack of manning. Pride Always in doing the right thing when no one else is looking. Pride Always in making the extra effort to help your fellow Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines. Pride Always in making perfection the standard and not a goal. Pride Always in being the best person you can be every day, all of the time. Pride Always as you stand the line between right and wrong. Pride Always in knowing that YOU make a difference in Today's Air Force. Pride Always in the uniform we wear, and what it stands for. Pride Always in yourself for making the choice to serve this great country, and protect the Constitution of the United States. Pride Always.

In my sixteen years in the Air Force, I have seen many changes: more with less, less with less, AFSO 21 initiatives, PB 720, the reduction in forces, force shaping initiatives, peacetime operations, and wartime operations. In all of the changes, I believe there is a common theme that holds true with any Air Force entity. We ALL have much more on our plates with a lot less manpower to accomplish the mission. We ALL feel somewhat unappreciated for the job we do. Yet, somehow, the mission always gets done - Pride Always.

So how does a PA morale cheer translate to your job as an Airman? We don't have the time to reinvent the wheel. We all take a personal investment in "service before self," placing our personal lives in the back seat of the Air Force mission. We fight a war overseas, yet maintain a full time stateside mission at home. We have to make every second of every day count. We have to give a 100 percent effort in all that we do. We must make perfection the standard, and not the exception. We have to take pride in all that we do as Airmen to do the job right ... PRIDE ALWAYS!